An exit strategy in the context of emergency water supply interventions is a planned approach of why, what, when and how implementing organisations will end their water– supply related humanitarian engagement. This process should be considered and planned for from the start of activities. Addressing the exit strategy at an early stage of an intervention provides transparency to partners and promotes a seamless handover to respective government departments or development agencies. Overall, an exit strategy includes the process of transitioning, handingover and possibly decommissioning infrastructure and exiting or disengaging from activities, projects, programme areas or countries. This is particularly important once the acute phase has passed and should be implemented as soon as basic water supply services are (re-)established at a level that successfully reduces the vulnerabilities. For post-acute, chronic and protracted crises, exit criteria are applied that compare the advantages and costeffectiveness of a sustained humanitarian intervention with those of an intervention led by local authorities and agencies or other donors and/or partners. As with other water supply considerations, exit and transition strategies are context dependent.
Exit strategies must also align with national strategies and policies X.3. If the local situation allows, they should be carried out in coordination with the government and/or relevant developmental actors to jointly define the scope and focus of the interventions to ensure a smooth transition. Implementing partners must specify when and how project support will be terminated and handed over to the local government, other local organisations or service providers capable of sustaining/maintaining the achieved service levels or clarifying whether and how projects will be followed up (e.g. by another phase with the potential for follow-up funding to continue WASH activities where necessary). The following sustainability criteria should be addressed as early as possible to allow for a successful hand-over to local governments or other developmental actors and guarantee the future viability of the system: