Access to clean water, good sanitation and shelter are vital for everyone.
Since 2017, Watershed has been addressing these basic needs for refugees arriving in Europe. What unites us is a shared commitment to help those in need. By working in partnership with a range of humanitarian organisations like EuroRelief, Choose Love, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross, we have been able to implement projects in Greece and Serbia. Our main areas of expertise are water and sanitation engineering, and shelter.
Water is life. Clean water is vital to live without illness. However, in many places this basic human right is not guaranteed. Uncontrolled surface water can bring its own problems. Improving drainage helps to combat stagnant water, which can be a breeding ground for diseases and parasites.
Offering functional, safe and dignified spaces where people can keep themselves and their environment clean is a key pillar of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). Our team has worked on projects inside and outside camps to install, maintain, repair and maximise sanitation facilities, such as showers, toilets and WASHpads.
Watershed understands that shelter isn’t just about having a roof, of some sort, over your head. It signifies protection, privacy, and dignity. We make all manner of improvements to individual accommodation units and general camp infrastructure alike, to ensure a shelter lives up to its name.
2021-22: Greece, Lesvos
Mavrovouni: Community Volunteer Activities
We’ve been working with community volunteers in structured way since March 2021. As the Mavrovouni camp has transitioned through various phases of development, our community teams have focused on different aspects over time, to support the WASH needs of the camp population.
Mavrovouni: Transition to permanent WASH facilities
Since opening, one of the most pressing needs in Mavrovouni RIC was to upgrade from temporary toilet and shower solutions to those with a sustainable water supply and sewage network, and dignified access to permanent facilities. From September 2021 onwards, we assisted with the smooth transition to the toilet and shower containers.
Mavrovouni: Temporary WASH Activities with Community Volunteers
March 2021 was a crucial month for Watershed, as we undertook a lot of brand-new activities as part of a handover with the German Red Cross (GRC), due to them concluding their emergency mission on Lesvos.
Providing people with the ability to shower is one of our main objectives when it comes to WASH. When Mavrovouni emergency camp first opened, there was no possibility for people to wash, let alone shower. In order to address this immediate need, we worked to provide a short-term solution.
The location of Mavrovouni RIC is on a peninsula just North of the old Kara Tepe camp. The area was previously a grassy, open expanse; formerly used for military purposes. Being surrounded by higher ground, the issue of rain water drainage is one that concerned us from the beginning.
As the new camp opened amidst such an emergency context, tents were quickly erected for the residents to move into. However, autumn soon started to approach and the need for flooring to insulate each tent’s inhabitants from the cold and damp ground was evident.
Providing solutions to multiple issues in one practical intervention is the kind of efficient project that Watershed loves. Our “WASHpad” project has been repeated in many problematic areas around Moria camp and follows a simple concept that can be easily replicated in a diversity of contexts.
Greece: Moria RIC, Lesvos
November 2017- September 2020
The residents of Moria RIC and the inhabitants of the “Olive Grove” overspill.
We see value in bringing quality, durable and audience-appropriate facilities to people on the move. During the nearly three years that we concentrated our operations in Moria camp, we focussed on simultaneously maximising the number of facilities available to residents whilst ensuring they are durable and easy to maintain in both design and material.
Whilst focussing on WASH has always been our main priority, the knowledge and skills of our team also lend themself to supporting people’s shelter needs. Over the course of nearly three years in Moria, our shelter work has spanned from small repairs and simple fixes that support individual families, to collaborative build projects that address the needs of entire communities.
Greece: Moria RIC, Lesvos
November 2017- September 2020
The residents of Moria camp.
Specifically lone women in Section C/D, residents of Level 2 and families living in ISOboxes.
From November 2017 to September 2020 we based our operations in Moria camp on Lesvos, during that time maintenance was always Watershed’s most prioritised activity. We have witnessed, time and time again, how the simplest repairs and interventions mean the difference between somebody being able to use a toilet or not.
After the Barracks were evicted in May 2017, Watershed started to focus more intensely on WASH and shelter. Firstly, we provided labour for an emergency response shelter project, erecting tents and installing floors in Kikinda TC, in order to prepare the camp for the arrival of residents coming from the Barracks, with our partners Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).
Watershed first found its feet in Serbia, as a team of friends, who came together at the Choose Love volunteer hub in Thessaloniki. Although connected by a shared commitment to the same cause, we aspired to put our specific, practical skills and experiences to use- somewhere that it was really needed. In the early months of 2017, over 1200 men and boys were living in an unofficial squat next to Belgrade train station, called “the Barracks.”