A systematic review of the amount of water per person per day needed to prevent morbidity and mortality in (post-)disaster settings

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More primary research on water amounts in a disaster setting is necessary, so that the humanitarian sector can further professionalise its water-related standards, indicators and interventions.

To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian efforts, minimum standards for humanitarian assistance and key indicators, showing whether a standard has been attained, have been developed. However, many of these standards and indicators are based on a consensus on best practices and experiences in humanitarian response, because relevant evidence on the impact of humanitarian interventions is often lacking. One important example of a standard in humanitarian aid in a disaster setting is “water quantity.” The accompanying indicator states how many litres of water are needed per person per day in a disaster setting. The objective of this review was to determine the evidence base behind this indicator, to improve health outcomes such as morbidity (e.g., diarrhoea) and mortality. Included in the review were 6 observational studies, including 1 study that was performed during the disaster and 5 studies in a post-disaster phase. From two studies there is conclusive evidence on the relationship between the amount of water received and diarrhoea or mortality rates in refugee camps. However, overall, these studies do not contain enough data with relevance to a specific amount of water, and the level of evidence is very low.

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