Frequently asked questions in case of emergencies
The information below gives responses to questions that are likely to be frequently asked during an emergency. They are divided into four categories — Health risks linked to drinking-water and sanitation; health risks due to stagnant water; immediate actions that should be taken in respect of water, hygiene, and sanitation; and the nature of WHO's response to the emergency.
Health risks: Drinking-water and sanitation
- What actions are most urgent in relation to water, sanitation and health?
- Water, sanitation and hygiene during an emergency
- Greatest drinking-water and sanitation dangers to human health
- Are there any risks which may become increasingly acute as the time since a disaster evolves?
- What is the minimum quantity of water needed?
- What are good indications that water is safe?
- Should all water used for domestic purposes be treated?
- Are there disease risks from dead bodies and what should be done for safe disposal?
- What are the health risks related to overcrowding?
Health risks: stagnant water
- Where is the risk of malaria most acute and what should be done?
- What are the health risks related to stagnant water?
- Are there different health risks linked to fresh and brackish (salty) water?
- Where is the risk of dengue fever most acute and what should be done?
- Where is the risk of Japanese Encephalitis most acute and what should be done?
Water treatment at household level and on a large scale
- What are the options of getting safe water to people in affected areas?
- How can personal hygiene be maintained in difficult circumstances?
- What should people who have no access to sanitation facilities do and how can you minimize risk?
- Is waste management a priority in such precarious situations?
Latest WASH publications
Water and sanitation for health facility improvement tool (WASH FIT)
UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2017 report
Guidelines for drinking-water quality: First addendum to the fourth edition
Guidelines for drinking-water quality: Fourth edition incorporating the first addendum
Water quality and health - Review of turbidity