International Humanitarian Aid Organisation

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Increasing access to safe water

Increasing access to safe water


At Medair, we have two core competencies that drive all of our humanitarian work:

Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation.


What is Rehabilitation?


In the humanitarian context, the line can sometimes be blurred between emergency relief, rehabilitation, and development. For Medair, rehabilitation projects involve work that increases the capacity of the local community to respond to crises, and that restores services or livelihoods to a pre-existing or improved level after a crisis or disaster.


Medair does not participate directly in longer-term development work, but when we deem that a rehabilitation phase has ended, we often hand over our projects to NGOs who specialise in development work.


Rehabilitation activities provide resources to restore lives and livelihoods, once emergency needs have been met. For Medair, rehabilitation includes: establishing health projects; increasing reliable access to safe water and sanitation; and re-establishing infrastructure, including homes, medical clinics, schools, and roads.


Medair’s rehabilitation activities generally involve a focus on training local communities to better respond to crises, including education on basic hygiene, water and sanitation, health care, and disaster-resistant building techniques.


When Medair undertakes a rebuilding project, it does so with the credo: ‘Build Back Better.’ By focusing on capacity building at the same time as rebuilding or re-establishing services, the community benefits from more than upgraded infrastructure. They also learn to apply the requisite skills and knowledge that in turn allow them to maintain and expand services after Medair leaves.



Core Strengths of Medair’s Rehabilitation:


With almost 20 years of experience conducting rehabilitation work with the most vulnerable people around the world, and a dedicated and visionary staff to implement this work, we have faced and overcome virtually every challenge imaginable. Most importantly, we have learned from those challenges, and are able to conduct our rehabilitation activities with confidence, efficiency, and accountability.


Needs Assessments

We are constantly assessing the needs of our current beneficiaries and of potential future regions of intervention. We do this to ensure that our services are truly meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. By conducting regular needs assessments, we are able to maximise the usage of our resources to provide the optimum gain for our beneficiaries.

Multisectoral Response

Medair employs a multisectoral approach to humanitarian relief, which allows us to provide the assistance that is most needed, whether for emergency relief or for rehabilitation. Our three key sectors of expertise are: Water & Sanitation, Health Services, and Shelter & Infrastructure.

For rehabilitation, the most vital needs of the community are considered, and matched with our ability to meet those needs through our sectors of expertise. For example, in Indonesia our primary focus has been restoring water and sanitation facilities to the community, while throughout Sudan the needs have been more diverse, requiring comprehensive responses from both Health Services and WatSan sectors.          

Build Local Capacity

Medair makes it a primary objective to build local capacity to help reduce the risks of future disasters and to help communities recover quickly when disasters and crises do occur. We work alongside beneficiaries, providing training in topics like hygiene promotion to help prevent disease, and in protecting water sources to avoid contamination from flooding.

High Levels of Community Participation

Medair takes the time to develop positive relationships with the local community in order to understand their real needs. Where some other agencies arrive and leave immediately after an emergency, Medair stays to nurture people back to independence, increasing the likelihood that programmes will be sustainable.

Beneficiary Focus

In all of our programmes, Medair places a high value on putting the beneficiaries first. This means that our services and care are grounded in compassion and respect for the independence and dignity of every man, woman, and child we serve.

Cooperation and Coordination

Medair works closely with local and international NGOs as well as with local governments to coordinate the delivery of services. This helps to ensure positive working relationships in the country, solid communication about the most vulnerable beneficiaries and their most urgent needs, and logistical support so that rehabilitation activities do not overlap with other agencies.

Case Study: The 2005 Pakistan Earthquake

Medair’s intervention in Pakistan is a good example of an emergency relief project that expanded into a rehabilitation project. After the earthquake, there was an urgent need to distribute temporary shelters to people before the freezing conditions of winter arrived. If Medair’s sole focus had been emergency relief, then we would have left as soon as those shelters were distributed. Instead, we spent the winter consulting with stakeholders and planning how we could best help the region rebuild stronger than ever before.

The Results:

·  10,000 + people received training in earthquake-resistant construction

·  11 schools reconstructed or rehabilitated, including water and sanitation services

·  28,000 people received hygiene education

·  1,300 people received livelihood support (water buffalo or seed distribution, plus training)


Case Study: Madagascar

Every year during its cyclone season, Madagascar experiences heavy rainfall and the threat of cyclones, which often lead to disastrous flooding, damage to crops, and the displacement of island residents. As a result, Medair is kept busy conducting emergency relief for about four months a year, while the rest of the year is spent conducting rehabilitation activities which are designed to reduce the impact of future cyclones. Much of this work involves capacity building in the local communities, training people to manage and protect their water points and latrines, and learning about the importance of good hygiene for maintaining health.


The Results (2006):


·  25,000 beneficiaries served through the Rano Tsara (“good water”) project

·  50 flood-resistant water points

·  100 latrines

·  25 water technicians trained

·  3 communes and 17 communities trained in WatSan infrastructure management

·  64 associations, schools, or volunteers trained in delivering hygiene promotion

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Sectors of Expertise

Health Services
Water & Sanitation
Shelter & Infrastructure