Humanitarian OSM Tags/WASH

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WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and it reveals the focus of many international organisations to work exclusively on issues of water supply, sanitation infrastructure and hygiene practices. WASH is an increasingly used term of development jargon, however, it also means a proliferation of initiatives to improve the provision of public health in developing countries.

When I received a small dataset from the MSF mission in Chad, I was surprised to know that the data could not be efficiently uploaded to OSM. The dataset had only 5-6 water points, but every point was characterized with 35 variables. I could have uploaded all the data into OSM as new tags -see the example of Map Kibera (

It should be important to include some new variables in the WASH group within the HDM preset. The keys and values for water features would include:

Water source type Protected dug well, Unprotected dug well, Well (general), Manually drilled borehole, Mechanically drilled borehole, Borehole (general), Protected spring, Rainwater harvesting, Public tap stand, Infiltration gallery, Subsurface dam, Sand dam, Dam (general), Pond, River (direct abstraction), River (Earth / concrete dam), Indoor household connection (dwelling connection), Outdoor household connection (yard connection), Other
Extraction system Manual, Semi-manual, Powered, Gravity
Management structure Direct Government Operation, Private Operator/Delegated Management, Community Management, No Management, Unknown

The keys and values for sanitation and hygiene facilities would include:

Base tag amenity=toilets
Technology type Flush toilet, Septic tank, Flush/pour flush to pit latrine, Ventilated improved pit latrine (VIP), Pit latrine with slab, Composting toilet, Special case, Flush/pour flush to elsewhere, Pit latrine without slab, Bucket, Hanging toilet, No facilities or bush or field toilets:disposal
Disability inclusive Yes, No toilets:wheelchair
Menstrual hygiene facilities Yes, No
Water for handwashing Yes, No toilets:handwashing

Unresolved issues:

  • is the urban/rural division pertinent when creating a tagging scheme?

Other initiatives outside of the HOT community exist such as:

This is an open discussion, thanks for contributing! Created by aero97. Special thanks to Ellen, Rafael, Petri, Bruno.