Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2012

Social and Cultural Impact

Bob Reed in Haiti

Support to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in disaster relief

Academic expertise
Water, Engineering and Development Centre, School of Civil and Building Engineering
Lead academic
Bob Reed
Peter Harvey, Sarah House, Christophe Lacarin, and Sohrab Baghri

Preventing the spread of disease caused by a lack of water, sanitation and hygiene in the aftermath of emergencies is a critical component of effective humanitarian relief. Historically a lack of coordinated and common approaches has hampered relief efforts, and exacerbated the suffering of affected populations.

During the 1990s, Bob Reed of WEDC led a series research projects funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which investigated and trialled effective approaches to provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the aftermath of emergencies. WEDC researchers worked collaboratively with humanitarian relief agencies, and supported a process of inter-agency collaboration which has since formalised as the ‘WASH cluster’ emergency coordination initiative led by UNICEF.

Research findings were initially published as field guidance manuals for those involved in the planning and implementation of emergency WASH interventions. Subsequent formats and versions have been prepared and are widely used by those active in this sector. Typically downloads of Bob’s publication from the WEDC website increase ten-fold following a major emergency, for example Emergency Sanitation downloads increased from an average of 340 monthly downloads in November 2004, to 3492 in January 2005 following the South Asian Tsunami.

Bob is frequently called upon to support relief efforts following emergencies, and has mobilised to Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Haiti amongst others during his extensive career at WEDC.

Watch films about WEDC’s work in Haiti.


  • In January 2010 Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.7 million homeless. Vast areas of its capital city, Port au Prince, were without power, safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Disposing of human waste for such a vast homeless population is essential for preventing the outbreak of disease.

    At the request of UNICEF, Bob Reed visited Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake to advise and make recommendations for dealing with the crisis in sanitation that had rapidly developed. These recommendations were published as official guidelines.

  • The SPHERE Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards for the delivery of quality humanitarian response. Because it is not owned by any one organization, the Sphere Handbook enjoys broad acceptance by the humanitarian sector as a whole.

    The water and sanitation chapter draws heavily on Bob’s work and cites 5 of his publications as further references.

  • Bob Reed is the editor of a series of technical notes which synthesise key interventions on water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies, which are available through both the WEDC and World Health Organisation websites.

  • A series of Bob’s publications providing guidance on WASH interventions in emergencies are available as books which can be downloaded through the WEDC website or on a CD.

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