Human-Centered Design for WASH

This page includes curated collection of learning briefs, videos, webinar recordings, and training materials on Human-Centered Design (HCD) for WASH.

A mobile health clinic in Somaliland featuring a white with green trim latrine.
Mustafa Saeed / Save The Children


Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process that follows three steps: DISCOVER, CREATE, and DELIVER. There are many ways to refer to these steps, but the core idea is that the process is rooted in creativity, empathy, and most importantly, experimenting and trying out different ideas for designing to context. HCD supports WASH activities, such as product design or social and behavior change strategies, by making them more user-centered and sustainable.  

Resources on this page are updated on a regular basis by the PRO-WASH & SCALE Award.

If you are interested in learning more about these resources or to share your own resources, please contact PRO-WASH & SCALE at (

Please visit the PRO-WASH & SCALE page to learn more about additional capacity strengthening, knowledge-sharing, and applied research opportunities.

Resources and Materials


Online HCDforWASH Resource Center (FR)

This online portal was cocreated by PRO-WASH and iDE to promote innovative, sustainable, scalable community-centered solutions for WASH. This resource center provides easy-to-use tools and templates, case studies, short videos, and more. Visit this portal to learn more about HCD and how to use it to create and promote innovative, sustainable, and scalable community-centered WASH solutions.

Quick Guide to Using the Sanitation Possibilities Map (FR)

This easy-to-use tool is a way to start using HCD for WASH. PRO-WASH and iDE developed this guide to support increased innovation and user-centered sustainable solutions in WASH-related activities. The map helps the user brainstorm solutions to a wide range of sanitation challenges. The editable template is accompanied by a how-to guide. 

Water Quality Training Course (FR)

This guide and training package enables implementing partners to run a 16-lesson water quality training course for their staff. This could be for staff who are new to water quality monitoring (WQM), or for staff new to USAID water quality requirements. 

HCD for WASH toolkit and Training Materials

In June 2022, PRO-WASH organized an introductory training on HCD for the Takunda RFSA and partners, ahead of a deep dive exercise to explore sustainable latrine construction and utilization in Takunda communities. These materials provide an introduction to HCD and tools that may be adapted by other partners who are interested in using HCD approaches to explore sanitation.

Resources: Inclusive Human-Centered Design (HCD) for More Impactful Programming

This collection of human-centered design (HCD) resources was compiled for a side event at the 2023 UNC Water & Health Conference. The supplementary resources and tools were presented at the side event A Debate and Discussion on the Power and Pitfalls of Human-Centered Design Through Case Studies featuring PRO-WASH & SCALE, iDE, CARE, and the Takunda Resilience Food Security Activity.

Case Studies

Sanitation in Complex Operational Environments 

This resource collection includes reports and outputs created by the Sanitation in Complex Operational Environments (SCORE) project. The final report compiles the insights and learnings through the HEAR, CREATE and DELIVER phases of research on sanitation systems in the Haor and Char regions of Bangladesh. The research has been completed as an applied research activity of PRO-WASH through the SHOUHARDO III project, which is implemented by Care Bangladesh. 

Leveraging Human-Centered Design and Market Approaches for Sanitation in Complex Operational Environments (FR)

This learning brief was developed as part of an applied research project initiated by the USAID BHA-funded PRO-WASH activity, based on iDE’s research. This project aimed to support SHOUHARDO III to identify low-cost, locally available sanitation solutions to meet the needs of populations in the Haor and Char areas of Bangladesh, using principles of human-centered design. 

Human-Centered Design Approaches for Safe and Sustainable Latrine Construction and Utilization in Communities (FR)

In Zimbabwe, the Takunda RFSA partnered with government officers to use HCD approaches to conduct community walks to observe different stages of latrine construction and use; create timelines of latrine access and use with latrine owners; hold gamified focus groups to identify aspects of dream latrine; and listen to experiences of local latrine installers and hardware shop owners. This learning brief and accompanying video highlight how the findings from the DISCOVER phase are being used for the CREATE and DELIVER phases.

Webinars and Training Materials

Webinar launch of the HCDforwash Resource Center. During this webinar, participants received a virtual tour of the site based on several user scenarios and you'll be able to ask questions of the creators. They saw a toolbox full of easy-to-use HCD resources that they can use in their own work and share with others in their organizations. 

This webinar is hosted by the team who handled the Scaling-Up WASH Innovations in Remote Locations (SWIRL) program. The team shares their experience with an HCD approach used to develop and implement sanitation solutions in 37 unions in Bangladesh and how existing business models were adapted to improve last-mile outreach in hard-to-reach areas. Participants also learn about adaptive management techniques used during COVID-19 to increase sanitation sales and iDE’s Market Systems Resilience Index (MSRI) tool.

PRO-WASH & iDE Learning Journey

During this learning journey, participants used a new HCD tool: the Possibilities Map for Market Based Sanitation. They received persona packages and worked with fellow designers and fellow WASH possibilities from around the world to develop Sanitation Possibilities Maps. Download and use the Sanitation Possibilities Canvas in your own work to strengthen your WASH activities.

Human-Centered Design Tools for WASH: How Designing With People Strengthens Programming

This webinar covers how to use HCD techniques to address WASH challenges, by exemplifying the Sama Sama sanitation business in Ghana. The business used HCD to improve products, increase sales more tailored to the needs of women and the community, and create job and marketing opportunities for local WASH entrepreneurs.

Learning by Doing: Employing Human-Centered Design Techniques to WASH 

In June 2019, PRO-WASH and iDE held an interactive training workshop on how using HCD can address global sanitation solutions, based on a real-life WASH project in Bangladesh. iDE uses these insights to iteratively generate, prototype, and refine solutions that improve lives and livelihoods considering the entire user experience, from how a solution is built to how it is promoted, financed, delivered, serviced, and more


How can Human Centered Design Solve Longstanding Sanitation Challenges: A Case Study from Zimbabwe

This video shows how the Takunda RFSA in Zimbabwe used HCD to better understand sanitation challenges and created a plan for action to address these challenges. 


This video shows how partnering with iDE through PRO-WASH and the SWIRL Project, SHOUHARDO III used human-centered design approaches to understand and market improved latrines. 

Welcome to HCDforWASH: A digital space for WASH professionals

In this playlist you will find a short series of videos on HCD. Learn more at