Together, we work with the poorest and most marginalised communities to set up practical and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene projects that meet their real needs. Hardware, such as taps and latrines, is always backed up by education about good hygiene, making sure that the health benefits of safe water and sanitation are maximised.

Our local partners

We work with these local partners to ensure capacity and skills are developed at a local level:

  • Local non governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • Local and national government departments
  • Private utility companies

We invest in our local partner organisations to enable them to deliver their project work. We typically provide financial support, training and technical advice as well as help with planning, budgeting and institutional development.

As partners grow stronger they become less reliant on WaterAid's technical and financial support and can seek funds from other sources. When this happens, we often start working with newer or less well-established partners and so the cycle of training and development continues.

Some of the technologies we use

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We use technologies that are low-cost, appropriate to the local area, and can be easily maintained by the communities who use them.

Borehole drilling 

The borehole drilling rig

Used in areas where there is very hard rock or water needs to be collected from a greater depth.

Rainwater harvesting 

The rainwater harvesting jar

Used in areas where there is very hard rock or water needs to be collected from a greater depth.

One jar can supply several households with up to 1,500 litres of filtered rainwater collected from a clean roof and gutter.

Gravity flow system 

The gravity flow system

Water flows downhill into storage tanks that feed tapstands in the heart of the community.

Rope pump 

The rope pump

A rope pump is a simple technology that can be constructed from recycled parts like bicycle wheels, scrap metal and plastic.


We use the most appropriate, affordable and sustainable solution to the local sanitation situation.

The Gulper 

The Gulper

This hand pump fits on top of a permanent pipe rising out of a latrine pit. The waste is lifted out of the nozzle and safely into a container.

Ventilated pit latrine 

The ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine

The three main components of any latrine are a superstructure, a pit and a covering platform. The ventilation of the pit greatly reduces smell.

Composting latrine 

The composting latrine

When one pit is full, it is sealed and people use the other. Over a few months, the waste in the sealed pit turns into completely safe compost.

Technology films

Find out about the most common low-cost, sustainable technologies we use to help the world’s poorest people gain access to clean water and safe sanitation:

Man looking at the camera with a brick wall in the background

Composting toilet

Buddhi Sipai explains how his works and the free compost it provides for his gardening.
Man talking in a rural location

Rainwater harvesting

Toujani explains how it allows people to store water during the rainy season, saving a journey to the next village.
Man looking at the camera with a rope pump in the foreground

Rope pump

Martin Ouedraogo, affectionately known as "the rope pump guy" by locals, makes and maintains them. He explains how they work and the reduction he has seen in upset stomachs after their installation.

Technical FAQs

1. What are the different technologies that WaterAid uses?

Water technologies include protected hand-dug wells, boreholes, tube wells, rainwater harvesting schemes, protected springs, gravity flow schemes, sand dams and infiltration galleries.

Where pumping is required, WaterAid usually supports the installation of handpumps. Electrical, diesel and solar pumps are sometimes used where communities are able to cover operation and maintenance costs and where spare parts can be found locally.

Examples of sanitation technologies include simple pit latrines, ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, dual pit latrines, composting latrines, pour flush latrines and communal latrines with a septic tank. Communities and families are trained in all aspects of the correct usage and maintenance of latrines, including emptying systems which is of particular importance in high density settlements.

With all technologies, we evaluate each approach with the first aim of long-term sustainability. Each is evaluated based on:

  • Availability in local markets
  • Availability of spare parts or materials in local markets
  • Ability to deliver cost effective, long-term supplies without complex maintenance, expensive components or expensive chemicals

These lists are not exhaustive and WaterAid is supportive of innovation at the local level and efforts to develop new sustainable technologies.

2. Why do you use the technologies you do?

WaterAid focuses on long-term sustainable development and therefore uses technologies and approaches that can be supported by local communities and institutions beyond WaterAid's term of intervention.

The technologies we use to assist with water and sanitation provision need to be appropriate to local financial and geographical conditions and within the technical capacity of the benefitting community to operate and maintain.

We aim to use technologies that include locally sourced materials and spare parts which can be purchased and transported easily.

We also work closely with local and national governments who may have their own criteria for technology choice.

3. I have invented a new technology or product that I think would benefit WaterAid, what should I do?

WaterAid is always interested to hear about innovative technologies and approaches. We are particularly supportive of locally led innovation within the communities where we work. They can support our local partners to develop technical solutions to water, sanitation and hygiene related problems.

We do however, have limited financial resources and as such are not in a position to pilot new inventions developed outside of our programme work. If there is a sufficient body of data concerning the performance, cost, sustainability and appropriateness of a particular technology and it fills a clear gap in the provision of equipment or services, we may consider using it.

But, if it seems to us that a technology is not appropriate for work with the poorest people, we will not take it up. Reasons for this may include cost, availability of spare parts, skills to operate and maintain, and suitability for use in specific geographical conditions.

If you have developed a new water or sanitation technology or have a new product that's been reviewed against the above criteria and would like further advice please contact our Technical Advisors at [email protected].