Delivering Inclusive WASH services during COVID-19 and beyond!

Group of women sitting in rural village

An Inclusive WASH Jirga awareness session arranged by Transformation Facilitator in the village (IRC Pakistan)

In Pakistan, work has not stopped despite the challenges of a global pandemic facing the country. Water for Women partner, IRC has played an active role in helping communities prepare for and respond to COVID-19, incorporating priorities from the COVID-19 National Action Plan, Pakistan Government and WHO COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, their work is reaching approximately 7,425 people directly and 146,500 indirectly., which has formed part of a massive effort that has seen Pakistan get control of their COVID-19 case numbers and flatten the curve.


Supported by the Australian Government, IRC was able to quickly adapt elements of their existing LIFE project, Leveraging Inclusive WASH for Empowerment, to respond to COVID-19. The overall goal of LIFE is gender equitable and socially inclusive WASH services for improved health conditions of marginalised groups, which placed IRC in an excellent position to ensure this was carried through in their COVID-19 activities.


A COVID-19 Response is a WASH response


IRC is using its existing, trained Transformation Facilitators (TFs) and Inclusive WASH Jirgas (IWJs) to promote good hygiene behaviour and accessibility to WASH, communicate critical COVID-19 information and address specific issues that have impacted women, girls and transgender communities during the pandemic such as menstrual hygiene management (MHM), stress management, safety and WASH related livelihoods.


One focus area of the response has been menstrual health and hygiene (MHH). COVID-19 has posed additional stresses on hygiene practices and is the reason for a lack of mobility due to self-isolation and quarantine, as well as the reduction in income and limiting women and adolescent girls’ ability to access menstrual hygiene products.


LIFE has been running MHH sessions to help women and girls manage their periods during lockdown effectively and with dignity. Having already set up inclusive WASH Jirga's, a trusted and efficient way of sharing and disseminating knowledge within a community is already in place.


Transformation facilitators at the village level, organised awareness campaigns in their villages. Information that is shared during these sessions is further disseminated by participating women in their respective circles - the power of word of mouth!


Considering the need and demand from female community members, female transformation facilitators conducted awareness sessions on MHM in the COVID-19 situation.


Information provided during the sessions was further disseminated by participating women to other members of their family. Topics of the sessions were arranged around the issues identified by women during personal and prior session engagements, such as how to make and use home made materials and do's and don'ts of maintaining personal hygiene.


In Pakistan, IRC has leveraged their existing networks and relationships with communities to adapt their response quickly and effectively to support these communities during COVID-19 and continue to deliver WASH initiatives that will be sustained and support community health and wellbeing beyond this crisis.



Through Partnerships for Recovery, Australia is supporting COVID-19 work across South Asia to secure our region’s health, wellbeing and stability in these challenging times. Through Water for Women, not only are we delivering safe, equitable and sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), we are also building, healthy, inclusive and resilient societies. 


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