Strategies for building resilience to hazards in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems: the role of public private partnerships

Åse Johannessen*, Arno Rosemarin, Frank Thomalla, Åsa Gerger Swartling, Thor Axel Stenström, Gregor Vulturius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
286 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this paper is to enhance understanding of how the resilience of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems to hazards can be improved. In turn, this aims to inform different strategies for public and private partnerships (PPPs). In a new approach, to acknowledge the multi levelled nature of resilience; risk at the relevant levels are taken into account, (regional/river basin, urban area, and individual). For these levels, we first describe the different components of risk, vulnerability and resilience of the WASH system that influence people's exposure to hazards. We illustrate these components using examples from case studies in the literature. Using a social learning lens - a crucial ingredient of resilience - we examine opportunities for reducing risks through improving public-private engagement. These are presented as strategies which could guide investment decisions: As pressures from climate change and development add up, businesses must become aware of the risks involved in operating and investing without considering ecosystem health, both in terms of the services they provide for mitigating floods and droughts, as well as in terms of the development approaches that define how ecosystems are managed (e.g. "making space" for, rather than controlling water). There is a need to develop an institutional culture that strives towards greener and more resilient urban environments with the help of various quality assurance methods. Partnerships must reach the poorer customer base, encourage informal small entrepreneurs, and boost financial mechanisms (e.g. micro-insurance, micro-finance) to support the most vulnerable in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Issue numberPart A
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Hygiene
  • Public private partnerships
  • Resilience
  • River basin
  • Sanitation
  • Social learning
  • Urban
  • WASH
  • Water


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