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Our approach

Through a combination of technology and planning, we work with communities to ensure they are more resilient to, and prepared for, disasters. For instance, in flood-prone areas in Nepal, we work with the authorities to reduce the risks from a disaster by building raised toilets and waterpoints.

In high-risk areas we develop preparedness plans. For instance, in West Africa, we ensure that communities and local authorities have response plans for diseases such as cholera, which has helped us to participate in the response to the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the region. And in Niger, as part of our urban programme, we are also helping city authorities to develop municipal plans to make water and sanitation services resilient to threats from floods and disease outbreaks.

We also advocate systemic change, so that governments and other institutions reduce disaster risk through implementing early warning systems and adapting water and sanitation infrastructure. For instance, in Bangladesh, we have worked with communities to influence national policies regarding disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. People there are creating ‘vulnerability maps’ to identify those most at risk, particularly from river floods, and using them to negotiate infrastructure improvements with authorities such as improved drainage and adaptation of water and sanitation facilities.

WaterAid is not set up to respond to emergency situations. However, we do provide assistance to other organisations if a disaster strikes in an area where we already work, and then help with post-disaster recovery. For instance, after Cyclone Phailin in India, we helped disinfect wells and restore facilities, and used that opportunity to influence how the State should prepare for future disasters.