Worldwide, 663 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. Inadequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services is a major contributor to diarrheal illness, causing more than 840,000 deaths annually. It is a leading cause of infant and child morbidity and mortality and is increasingly thought to be a key determinant of childhood undernutrition and impaired growth. Tetra Tech is supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Bureau’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project, which aims to reduce morbidity and mortality in children under five by ensuring programming employs high-impact, evidence-based environmental health and water supply, sanitation, and hygiene interventions.

Through WASHPaLS, Tetra Tech is assisting with improving WASH programming by identifying, sharing, and guiding the use of best practices for the delivery of WASH services and sustained behavior change necessary to eliminate open defecation and move communities up the sanitation ladder. By generating evidence around sanitation and hygiene programming paradigms, the program aims to achieve sustainability, scale, and improved health impact. In addition, the program focuses on reducing exposure for infants and small children to animal feces.

WASHPaLs consists of four interrelated components designed to provide resources to USAID, national governments, key sector donors, and implementers to fill evidence gaps related to rural sanitation and behavior change. WASHPaLS offers USAID missions and technical bureaus access to thought leaders and analytical expertise across a wide range of WASH themes. The program conducts a suite of implementation research activities focused on behavioral and market-based measures for reducing open defecation and minimizing fecal pathogen transmission to infants and small children in home environments.

WASHPaLS also administers a small grants program to test novel approaches to behavior change and supports strategic global and national partnerships to promote uptake of WASHPaLS-generated evidence and global best practices by practitioners and policy makers, tapping into broad coalitions and dynamic partnerships.