WASH services are one of the main basic requirements. Communities and households require safe, free and adequate access to WASH services to maintain their hygiene practices, health and livelihood. Whereas, emergencies that interrupt WASH services in a community will severely impact all the community's life aspects. Thus, maintaining and recovering WASH services for the emergency affected population should be the main priority of any emergency response initiative.
Moreover, the preparedness, planning and coordination of any WASH response require time to identify and design the appropriate actions, coordinate the activities with stakeholders, and measure the WASH partners' capacities in responding to the WASH needs. Therefore, forecasting the expected crises and emergencies and measuring their impact on the WASH services will allow the WASH actors and stakeholders to define the required actions, response capacities and communication procedures that will enable them to provide an efficient response in a timely manner.
In Palestine and particularly in the West Bank, the WASH sector is already suffering from chronic vulnerability. The Israeli restrictions against the WASH sector's development, climate change, and local authorities' limited capacities are reflected in this sector's severe fragility. According to the 2021 Humanitarian overview, more than 1.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank suffer limited access to WASH services. Many communities and households are unresilient to any crisis that could affect their access to sufficient WASH services. Therefore, crises could shift them to a severe vulnerability that could threaten their lives.
Therefore, the WASH Cluster- State of Palestine has facilitated developing a contingency plan for the WASH sector in the West Bank. The WASH Cluster established a contingency planning working group of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), WASH Cluster strategic advisory group members (SAG), West Bank WASH areas focal points and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This group's main objective was to identify the expected risks that could affect the WASH sector in the West Bank and propose the appropriate WASH response toward these risks.
The WASH Cluster has engaged all the active Cluster partners in the response capacities identification phase; therefore, cluster partners were required to update their response capacities to the proposed risks based on the pre-identified actions.
This contingency plan will reference the WASH humanitarian actors during the planning and implementation of their WASH response during crises, besides allowing the humanitarian country team to advocate for resources required to operationalize this plan when needed.