Every person needs a sustainable supply of clean water: for drinking, washing, cooking and cleaning. It is a basic human right and still there are 844 million people that do not have clean water.

To date, governments, institutions and service providers around the world haven’t done enough to ensure clean water reaches the poorest and most marginalised people, leaving millions of people underserved.

In many countries, taps, wells and pipes delivering clean water simply do not exist and even where they do, water supply services are often not affordable or accessible, or aren’t designed to last.

Since 1981 we've reached 27 million people with clean water.

Together, we work with communities to set up practical and sustainable water projects that meet their needs. Hardware, such as taps and rainwater harvesting tanks are always complemented with training on maintenance and management, making sure that the health benefits of clean water are maximised. To ensure sustainability, we use technologies that are low-cost, appropriate to the local area, and can be easily maintained by the communities who use them.

We also work with local partners to ensure capacity and skills are developed at a local level. Local partners include:

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

We invest in local partner organisations to enable them to deliver lasting changes for their communities. We typically provide financial support, training and technical advice, as well as help with planning, budgeting and organisational 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, with the cycle of training and development starting again[LP1] [KH2] .

Two things are critical for water security: good quality, well managed water resources and effective water supply services. Water resources cannot be easily accessed without pumps, pipes, taps, tanks and skilled people to manage them as part of a service. Similarly, water supply services alone are of little use without water resources. If either is unavailable or unreliable, people will not be water secure.

All of the fresh water resources we depend on come from the natural environment. Rain flows in rivers and is stored in lakes, the soil or vast underground layers of rock called aquifers. The quantity and quality of available water can vary over time because of changes in the natural environment or through the influence of human activity. Natural disasters also have an impact on the quantity and quality of available water as well as the continuity of services.

A number of factors can combine to threaten water security:

  • Natural climate variability
  • Human-induced climate change
  • Population increases and migration
  • Settlement of hazard-prone land
  • Poor service provision
  • Uncontrolled discharge of pollutants into water
  • Exclusion because of caste, race, social status or political affiliation

Many of these threats can be managed to ensure that their impact is minimal, but often the political will and institutional capacity does not exist to do so. As a result, hundreds of millions of people remain without access to this basic human right.

(WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2017)

(UNICEF, Advancing WASH in Schools Monitoring, 2015)

(UNICEF, Advancing WASH in Schools Monitoring, 2015)