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I am looking for a reference / guideline for post disaster recovery /development programme that defines the maximum travel distance between households and water collection point, please share if you have any relevant information..

I am aware that the Sphere Standards that defines the maximum travel distance for emergency response as 500 m from house hold to water collection point . I am also aware that UNHCR defines the maximum travel distance for refugee camps as 200 m . But for recovery/ development phases i am now aware of any guideline or minimum standards that defines the required level of services in a given context and the corresponding distances.

I seek more information in regard.

Thanks and best regards,


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Dear Sanjay,

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation has proposed the following indicators for the Sustainable Develoment Goal for water:

a total collection time of 30 minutes or less for a roundtrip including queuing to an improved water source

Read more at:

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Dear Dietvorst,

Thank you very much for your answer and sharing the WASH 2015 link, I was just thinking for a context like Philippines where there is no queuing at all, the fetching time would be maximum 6 mins. Like this with an average walking speed of 80m/ min (upward) and while returning with load of water say 40m/min ( downward), the person shall be able to cover a distance of approximately 640 M.. Which is way above the Sphere standards for “Emergency”?. So at this point I feel that the time parameter is fine but there should also be a limit to the maximum distance? ?

Considering Sustainable Development I would consider proximity and time both a vital parameters. “Time saved is development”, also “investment for development”. 30 min for one trip seems too long in a development context, at least when I imagine.

I note that for a refugee ...(more)

Sanjay Mukherjee gravatar imageSanjay Mukherjee ( 2015-02-10 00:51:17 +0000 )edit

Dear Sanjay,

The 30 min standard should be seen as a minimum international standard that would already be a significant improvement for some African countries where poor women & children may spend several hours each day collecting water. Each country is of course free to set their own (stricter) standards that are appropriate for their level of development.

Regards, Cor Dietvorst

CDietvorst gravatar imageCDietvorst ( 2015-02-11 05:32:51 +0000 )edit

This is fairly context specific. While the Sphere standards should be considered as a minimum, I have come across many places in rural Africa where people would only dream of having water that close. There have been cases of conflict where refugees have been provided to something like the Sphere standard wheras the resident population have less and cut into water pipes. On the other hand, I who am used to internal plumbing have found it a great inconvenience since my water pipe sprang a leak last night and I have to go to a borehole in the garden. You should try to provide something to same level as people are used to/expect if resources allow.

In general there is a direct correlation between water use and distance to the water point with a huge increase once you get to a tap in the garden and again when you get internal plumbing. Water use also has a direct correlation to health and hygiene outcomes so do the best your budget and water resources will allow with a target of what the people would normally expect in their pre-disaster situation.

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I would agree with Martin Ager's comment about the answer being context specific. I would suggest the starting point is what was the norm before the disaster, what is the situation now and what can be realistically achieved within the timescale and scope of the project to come up with a target. Adopting an unrealistically ambitious target may for instance mean only a few people will benefit. Referring to standards is important, but judgement is even more so.

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