Oxfam believes in being proactive in finding solutions to the alarming public health crisis facing the world's poorest 2.5 billion people, and working with others to achieve change. It creates space and a culture for innovative thinking to flourish through its WaSH Innovation Fund, guided by a research and development strategy focused on key gaps in WaSH knowledge and technologies.
The Fund - supported by Oxfam Pioneers philanthropists - plays a critical role in enabling ideas from staff and partners to be trialled, encouraging learning from failure and fostering creativity and entrepreneurship. Key outcomes include:
- Developing new approaches and technologies to decrease public health risk, documenting the outcomes of pilot interventions to create a body of evidence
- Creating models of good practice for other agencies and local governments to adopt and adapt, publishing learning via academic journals, the Global WaSH Cluster and Emergency Environmental Health Forum (EEHF)
- Supporting the development of longer-term WaSH programmes in fragile regions that can help to build resilience and preparedness for when disaster strikes
The innovation portfolio primarily focuses on identifying low cost, sustainable and community-driven WaSH solutions for fragile areas prone to natural disaster and conflict. Innovations piloted so far are providing learning towards tackling these WaSH challenges:
- How to provide safer and more user-friendly toilets in difficult contexts
- How to increase the reliability and sustainability of community water supplies
- How to provide access to safe drinking water where there are no clean water sources
- How to improve hygiene promotion through better community engagement
- How to harness the power of markets for equitable, sustainable access to WaSH
Historically, through innovation, Oxfam has set the standard across the sector for many approaches and technologies that are now commonly used, such as easy-to-assemble water storage tanks, water bucket, water treatment units, and latrine slab structures.