19 November 2016



On average, each Australian uses approximately 295 litres of water a day* – so imagine having only 20 litres of water each day to drink, wash and clean. On 19 November, World Toilet Day, that is what Australia for UNHCR is asking Australians to consider, while highlighting UNHCR’s work supporting the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) of refugees and displaced people worldwide.

  • When people are forced to flee their homes, UNHCR’s priority is to provide life-saving shelter. WASH programmes are a core part of UNHCR’s planning for camps, outside camps and in urban areas, and provide access to clean water, showers and latrines. Without safe access to these, refugees are vulnerable to poor health or even danger.
  • Up to 84% of refugees are women and children, and often bear the burden of collecting their own water. In one refugee camp in Uganda, almost half of refugee children had their schooling interrupted to collect water.
  • Walking long distances to clean drinking water, or toilet points, can put women and children at risk of sexual violence. Improving safe access helps to reduce this risk.
  • Human waste disposal is an essential part of UNHCR’s sanitation programmes, reducing the potential contamination of water sources, providing a healthier environment, guaranteeing privacy, and reinforcing dignity.
  • During the outbreak of a humanitarian emergency, one latrine is installed for every 50 people during camp planning, however after a crisis, this number drops to one latrine for every family.
  • The type of latrine used in each refugee camp, such as trench, pit, or above ground may be different depending on factors including climate, geography, and the soil type – it may not be possible to dig into rocky soil.
  • UNHCR’s hygiene programmes also provide soap, hygiene and toiletry kits including sanitary pads, and community education about hygiene.
  • In 2015, with the generous support of Australian donors, UNHCR provided refugees worldwide with:
    • access to an average of 20 litres of water per person, per day. This is greater than the 15-litre minimum UNHCR sets per person;
    • community WASH education for 2.1 million people
    • 146,800 sanitary facilities and latrines
    • 2,300 water taps
    • 220 wells
  • Australians can support the health of refugees worldwide this World Toilet Day at unrefugees.org.au/shelter or by phoning 1300 885 997:
    • $22 is enough to provide safe water to keep 50 refugees alive for a day in an emergency situation;
    • $33 can provide one year’s worth of soap for 10 refugees;
    • With $78, two refugee families can have a ceramic water filter each to clean water in the home to protect their health.

About Australia for UNHCR

Australia for UNHCR is the National Association of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).  Australia for UNHCR is an Australian charity, which fundraises to provide life-changing humanitarian support to refugees and other displaced and stateless people supported by UNHCR.

For further information and images please contact:

Mark Macdonald
Head of Communications & Public Affairs, Australia for UNHCR
[email protected]
0431 619 892

Greg Mills
Media and Communications Coordinator, Australia for UNHCR
[email protected]
0439 314 583


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