WASHable is the first community-based research network on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in sub-Saharan, and especially in Francophone and Lusophone countries. It aims to develop a sustained transdisciplinary collaboration and equitable partnerships with Sub-Saharan countries, to enhance the contribution that arts and humanities research (particularly community engagement and participatory approaches) makes to WASH research.

WASHable’s aims and objectives focus on networking and impact activities that have been co-designed by collaborators at Lancaster University (UK), Catholic University Angola and University of Buea, Cameroon 

Motivation behind this Network

The deeply connected history of humans and water presents complex sustainable development challenges. Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene is recognised as an important human right. However, in countries in sub-Saharan Africa there are still large parts of the population who live in poverty without clean water, and even basic toilet facilities. Unsafe water, sanitation and lack of hygiene leads to a rise in infectious diseases and deaths, especially of young children.

Solutions developed for one sub-Saharan country will not necessarily work in others, due the ethnic, social, cultural and language differences that are found in these. Yet, understanding of social, cultural and religious practices have a great impact on the development and adoption of any water, sanitation and hygiene solutions and interventions.

Engaging the local communities as well as the local government and other organisations such as NGOs in participating in the development of sustainable and acceptable by the wider community solutions is critical. Important is also the involvement of women and children in this process, as they are mainly responsible for management of household water supply, sanitation, hygiene and household wellbeing.

However, there is currently limited knowledge and capacity within African research institutions on how to support this type of positive engagement with communities and co-design solutions with them. This is the gap that WASHable aims to fill.

WASHable has been partly funded by the AHRC (Grant No: AH/T008482/1).

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