Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events


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Publication Title

Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events

Publication Type

Publication of the Task Force on Extreme Weather Events of the Protocol on Water and Health


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“Anybody who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel Prizes, one for peace and one for science” (President J. F. Kennedy)

Water and sanitation are key components of any adaptation strategy aimed at preserving human health in a changing world. Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity in the pan-European region. They affect the capacity and operations of existing water and sanitation infrastructures and services, and thereby threaten the protection such services offer to human health and the environment.

Crisis control is not adaptation: while immediate impacts of floods and droughts on water supply and sanitation need to be dealt with on an emergency basis so that people have continued access to safe water and adequate sanitation, long-term policies also need to be developed based on shared experience and scientifically sound evidence.

Water supply and sanitation services have to prepare for the widely anticipated consequences of floods and droughts, or risk compromising access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for a substantial number of people in developing and developed countries, with cascading effects on human health, the environment and development. These impacts will also have to be taken into account in the design and construction of new systems, such as new reservoirs. Parties to the on Water and Health recognized the importance and the urgency of this issue, and called for the development of a guidance document that would disseminate knowledge and past experience to policymakers, managers of water supply and sanitation and the health sector.

The Guidance on water supply and sanitation in extreme weather events is a response to this call. It is the result of an extensive consultation process involving experts and institutions from many countries. It recalls the basic scientific findings, provides advice on communication issues, addresses the vulnerability of coastal areas and bathing waters, discusses the impact on human health, places extreme weather events in the context of water safety plans and formulates advice for adaptation measures for water supply and sanitation services during such events.

It is hoped that the Guidance will be used throughout the pan-European Region to raise awareness of the importance of these problems, and to support health and environment policymakers, managers of water supply and sanitation services and civil society at large in formulating resilience assessment in this area and in implementing appropriate programmes of measures.


See also

Protocol on Water and Health

Climate Change



External Resources


 Guidance on Water and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events.pdf

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