We work together 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 the promotion of good hygiene behaviour, 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.

Explore the cross-cutting issues involved in our work:
Children | Financing | Governance | Health | Hygiene | Social exclusion | Sustainability | Urban | Women

Some of the technologies we use

View related technology publications >

Water

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

Gravity-fed schemes

Gravity-fed schemes

A gravity-fed supply from a small upland river, stream or spring uses the force of gravity to transport water by pipework to tapstands near homes, reducing the work involved in carrying water.

Coming soon

Groundwater drilling

*Coming soon*

Hand-dug wells

Hand-dug wells

The traditional method of obtaining groundwater in rural areas of the developing world, and still the most common.

Handpumps

Handpumps

If water to be raised from a well or borehole is for people to drink, it is preferable to install a handpump.

Spring sources

Protection of spring sources

A spring source can be used either to supply a gravity scheme or provide a single outlet, running continuously.

Rainwater havesting 

Rainwater harvesting

Where there is no surface water, or where groundwater is deep or inaccessible, the most appropriate alternative is often the collection of rainwater.

Coming soon 

Subsurface dams

*Coming soon*

Coming soon 

Treatment of drinking water

*Coming soon*

Sanitation

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

Household sanitation technical brief

Household sanitation

Household sanitation prevents open defecation, which results in disease-causing pathogens being spread freely.

Sanitation and hygiene approaches 

Sanitation and hygiene approaches

There are different ways to develop and implement a sanitation or hygiene promotion programme, and elements of each approach can be combined to suit a particular context.

Urban pit waste management 

Urban pit waste management

All pit latrines, septic tanks and aqua privies will eventually become full of sludge, requiring various pit emptying methods and options for sludge disposal.

Wastewater treatment technical brief

Wastewater treatment

Wastewater treatment is essential to prevent pathogens from entering the environment and causing disease.

Technology posters

Download our illustrated technology posters and use them to raise awareness of our life-changing work or help in your fundraising activities.
The Gulper

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.

Evaluating our work

Conducting regular assessments of our work is crucial if we are to be effective and accountable.

Our programmes are assessed for relevance and effectiveness every three to five years. The evaluation process is usually led by independent specialists and involves community members, WaterAid staff, partner organisations, and the local government.

Evaluations give us the opportunity to consider how things could be done differently to reach more of the poorest and most marginalised people with safe water and sanitation.

Read some of our evaluation documents >

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 technicalenquiryservice@wateraid.org.