WASH- Water Sanitation Hygiene

The DPIHD survey on the conditions of access to water and sanitation in Catholic Church Health Facilities

The study involved 151 facilities in 23 countries and took place between September 2020 and March 2021

thanks to the cooperation of numerous organisations



How the WASH project was born and developed


The issue of WASH conditions in health centres had already been raised during the conference on "Governing a common good: access to drinkable drinking water for all", organised by the Dicastery together with some Embassies, on 8 November 2018 at the Pontifical Urbanian University.

Later, on the occasion of World Water Day 2019 , the Dicastery defined it as a priority and presenting the document Aqua fons vitae spoke of a "battle to save lives".

In March 2020, the Dicastery clearly announced its commitment to this issue, encouraging the study of WASH conditions in health centres.

One year later, the initiative had already borne significant fruit (press release of 21 March 2021).

Last March, Cardinal Peter Turkson - Prefect of this Dicastery - gave a detailed interview available in French, Italian, and a summary in English.

In March and May 2021, the Dicastery convened several online events. At a panel discussion on 25 March, comments were recorded by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Sister Carol Keehan who chairs the Health Task Force of the Vatican Commission COVID 19, and the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John. These short commentaries (totalling just over 3 minutes) are available in english, and in a subtitled version in French and Spanish; they have already been re-adopted (and can be re-adopted again, as long as the film is used in its entirety, without modification) by those who wish to organise an event on the WASH theme by illustrating the point of view of some representatives of the Church.


There were also 5 informative round tables whose recordings are fully accessible:

·         on 24 May (An event of Laudato si' Week - 6th anniversary of the encyclical)

·         on 26 May  in English and French

·        on 27 May  in English and Spanish


On the occasion of these various events, a first summary of the results of the survey was presented and commented on, now available on this page. These data do not, of course, reflect the situation of all the health centres of the Church, but only of certain health centres located in particularly difficult contexts and whose directors agreed to take part in the survey.



Materials available for those who want to study WASH conditions in their own contexts


The following are the main materials used during the survey (developed by experts who collaborated with the Dicastery). They can be used by organisations wishing to assess the WASH situation in their health centre..

·         The evaluation form is available both in Word and Excel in  French, English and Spanish.

·         There is a more detailed Excel version of this form, which includes a) additional sheets programmed to facilitate the analysis of the data collected during the survey and the compilation of a concise report, and b) a decision tree. These materials facilitate the work of those assessing their WASH situation (without necessarily having to use WASH specialists or IT experts) and then drafting projects and funding applications. They are also effective for those wishing to analyse several structures; they are available in English and French.

·         It should be noted that, during this project, a computer programme (using RStudio) was developed for those wishing to analyse WASH conditions in large numbers of health centres (several dozen) and quickly compile numerous summary reports. However, the use of this programme requires advanced computer skills, and anyone wishing to use it can send a special request to the Department.



Update of the initiative as of 29 July 2021 and next steps


The Dicastery and its partners are working to ensure that all the health centres involved in the survey are supported: the Caritas Confederation, dioceses and religious congregations, NGOs of various kinds, foundations, some government agencies for international cooperation and networks of experts are already in dialogue with the Dicastery, and there are many opportunities to expand these collaborations. Organisations interested in this initiative can contact water@humandevelopment.va  .

At the end of 2021, all the initiatives (donations, twinning, training, partnerships of various kinds, etc.) that have emerged in this area will be presented.

Please note that WASH issues will also be considered within the framework of the Laudato si' Platform of Initiatives.

21 July 2021