Water and Social Cohesion in Refugee Settings

Published: February 19, 2022

Water and sanitation (WASH) are often scarce in refugee settings. WASH projects are implemented across the globe in an attempt to alleviate water-borne diseases, improve health and livelihoods as well as foster sustainable development. WASH projects therefore have marked impacts on local communities’ social fabrics and are a plausible driver of social cohesion and peace. Whether and, if so, by what mechanism this link comes about, however, has received all-too little scrutiny in the academic and policy literature.

The policy question is whether water and sanitation interventions can reduce scarcity-related resource competition and contribute to social cohesion within and between refugee and host populations.

This evaluation relies on the design for a six-year cumulative study on the effects of WASH on social cohesion. A key innovation of the project is to bridge quantitative difference-in-differences models with fine-grained qualitative evidence in a Bayesian framework. We measure social trust and prosocial behavior

Implementing partners
Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia
In-country research partner
Study population
6,000 respondents in 6 refugee camps
Study type
Controlled before-after study
2022 - 2026
Anselm Hager, Bernadette Schultz, Carlo Koos, Mike Wekesa