Mobilizing greater business action to address WASH challenges in the workplace, in communities where workers live, and across supply chains

What is WASH4Work and Why Take Action?

WASH is critical to leading healthy lives. Yet billions of people every day still do not have access to safe and clean water for drinking or washing, toilets and basic hygiene requirements to ensure that they stay healthy and well. The private sector creates 9 out of 10 jobs in developing countries. As such, businesses are in a unique position to impact billions of people every day, including those who work in their factories, farms, stores and offices, who supply and distribute their goods, and who buy and consume their products and services.

Wash4Work invites you to join us NOW to bring about better WASH outcomes in your workpace, supply chains, and community.

Take Action

On World Water Day, 2016, a diverse group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors joined together to launch the WASH4Work initiative to mobilize business to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the workplace, in the communities where workers live, and across supply chains.

The initiative, a response to the UN Deputy Secretary-General’s “Call to Action on Sanitation”, will enable partners to align, coordinate, and expand existing efforts in this area, while serving as a means for greater private sector engagement in efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals. Collaboration via WASH4Work will help to improve health outcomes, stimulate economies, contribute to business growth, and help people realize their human rights to water and sanitation.

Building upon existing initiatives, WASH4Work partners will develop tools and resources to support the mobilization of: 1) businesses to act, 2) governments to create policies and regulatory frameworks which facilitate business action, and 3) the public and civil society to support business action on WASH and ensure accountability.

WASH4Work Partners will work in the following areas:

WASH4Work partners will further WASH along the following dimensions:

  • WASH in the Workplace: Ensuring that workers have access to and can use safe drinking water, improved sanitation and adequate hygiene to meet their health, safety, and dignity needs.
  • WASH across Supply Chains: Encouraging businesses to require suppliers to implement equitable and adequate WASH solutions in the workplace and to work with suppliers to manage impacts on communities throughout the suppliers’ operations.
  • WASH in the Community: Ensuring business operations do not negatively impact WASH in the surrounding community and supporting workers’ access and use of safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and adequate hygiene at home.

New Resources:

Framework for Business Action on WASH

Provides a checklist and guidance for how the companies can translate good intent, investment and commitment into lasting solutions on WASH.

Business Case for Action on WASH

Lays out why WASH matters and some preliminary outcomes of increased investments in WASH.

ILO Training Tool for WASH in the Workplace

These self-training modules on occupational safety and health can help governments, workers, and employers implement the ILO's standards and codes of practice on water, sanitation, and hygiene.

World Toilet Day Official - A day to think and take action

World Toilet Day is a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis - a topic often neglected and shrouded in taboos.

Organizations currently engaged in WASH4Work Include:

Take Action


Businesses are increasingly addressing WASH in the workplace, often within the broader context of mainstreaming water stewardship, improving worker welfare, and the realizing the human rights to water and sanitation. However, to meet the ambition of the SDGs, more needs to be done, especially to reach women and girls.

To address WASH challenges in the workplace, communities where workers live, and across supply chains, your company can:

  1. Access resources that that support the business case for WASH investments and assess your company’s WASH impact areas.

  2. Ensure all employees have access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, and appropriate hygiene in the workplace.

  3. Mitigate negative impacts on community WASH by improving water efficiency, managing pollutants, and treating wastewater as part of a broader water stewardship framework.

  4. Leverage your company’s position to promote and require clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for workers in the workplace and responsible water stewardship by your company’s suppliers.

  5. Collaborate with and support governments to ensure WASH provision in communities.

    • WASH4Work Resource: Engage with local and national governments and development partners, including through the Sanitation and Water for All political dialogue at national and global levels.

  6. Engage employees in promoting accepted WASH in the workplace, supply chain and communities.

    • WASH4Work Resource: To be identified.

  7. Communicate widely (through e.g. corporate reporting) to consumers and stakeholders about the importance that the company places on WASH and actions they can take to support WASH delivery at scale through actions set out in WASH4Work.

    • WASH4Work Resource: WASH4Work Infographic.

  8. Work with WASH4Work partners to implement on the ground action, learn from others, and share experiences.

    • WASH4Work Resource: WASH4Work Partners.

These actions will be updated over time

Overall WASH4Work Resource: The forthcoming WASH4Work Action Framework will outline these contributions in more detail, and provide further guidance and resources to interested companies.


  • Include business within national dialogues on delivery of WASH.
  • Develop and/or implement standards for WASH within the workplace, including setting an example by ensuring safe WASH in all public sector workplaces.
  • Reflect the role of business in government policy, strategies and plans.
  • WASH4Work Resource: ILO Training Tool for WASH in the Workplace

Public and Civil Society

In support of Business, the Public and Civil Society (citizens, workers, consumers, NGOs) can:

  • Call on governments to enable business to achieve adequate WASH for employees.
  • Encourage companies to do more to respect and promote the rights to water and sanitation, in the workplace, supply chains and in communities where companies operate.
  • Recognize companies providing and promoting WASH for workers, in supply chains, and communities.

Private sector outreach is being conducted through the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and other partners. Feedback from respective member companies / endorsers is continuously being sought in order to ensure that WASH4Work outputs and activities are of value to the private sector. If your company would like to contribute to WASH4Work, please email the WASH4Work Secretariat at wash4work@wateractionhub.org