Ann Thomas is Senior Advisor, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF. She is an environmental engineer with over two decades of development experience, within the UN system and aid organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Her passion is driving strategic policy decisions in the WASH sector – an often-overlooked investment-multiplier in emerging economies – that translate directly to improved health and economic development outcomes. Ann has served as advisor to national governments across Africa and Asia, aligning national strategies for water and sanitation with global best practice, climate change considerations, and innovative financing opportunities.
Ann’s work is motivated by front line experiences in disasters and cholera outbreaks, witnessing the disproportionate vulnerability of populations without access to basic WASH services. Having worked in several of the the world’s most disaster-prone nations, recognizing the enormity of the gap between resources and needs, Ann considers partnerships and coalition building as foundational to accelerating progress. Ann has advocated new financing and community engagement models with Islamic financing agencies in Indonesia, resulting in scalable and culturally relevant programs for the poorest, and at the same time has worked with multinationals to innovate and test market solutions to identified gaps. As part of the Government of Indonesia’s COVID response, Ann developed protocols which were deployed nation-wide in a variety of settings, to support infection prevention and control, monitoring of behaviors, reopening of schools and continuity of municipal services - while advocating for the centrality of WASH in mitigating further outbreaks.