WaterAid's vision is a world where people facing poverty and marginalization have access to sustainable and safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

We aim to achieve this by strengthening WASH systems, which are made up of:

  • actors (people and institutions)
  • factors (social, economic, political, environmental, technological)
  • interactions

To strengthen WASH systems, we work at local, national and global levels, and use a range of tactics.

Analysis, evidence generation and research

Our first task is to understand the problem and identify where we have the best chance of generating change. We work with local communities and institutions to identify the barriers people face in accessing sustainable and safe WASH. We also do research to gather the evidence needed to advocate for improvements to WASH systems.

A male employee of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation, stands infront of a large water tower, arms folded, holding a wrench, Lahan, Siraha, Nepal, September 2019.
Ram Narayan Chaudhary, an employee of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation, stands in front of a large water tower in Lahan, Nepal, September 2019.
WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

Partnerships

We cannot tackle the barriers people face in accessing sustainable and safe WASH alone. We therefore work with:

  • local institutions and communities
  • local and national governments
  • civil society and non-governmental organizations
  • academic and research institutes
  • the private sector

To make our work as effective as possible, we also share best practice and the lessons we have learned with others, and bring different institutions together to increase their commitments to improving WASH.

Service delivery and behavior change

We deliver WASH services that are inclusive, we promote hygiene behavior change, and we demonstrate how WASH can be sustained and expanded. We also support communities and local institutions to make their WASH facilities more resilient to climate change and improve water security and the management of water resources.

Institutional and capacity strengthening

We strengthen the skills and knowledge of service providers and local governments to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. We support local institutions to better plan, finance and monitor the performance of WASH services. We strengthen the relationships between service providers and their consumers to make sure providers are responsive and accountable. We also promote the participation and leadership of women in decision-making around WASH.

Village members sit together in a room for a meeting with WaterAid Tanzania representatives. Serengeti, Tanzania. May 2021
Village members sit for a meeting with WaterAid Tanzania representatives. Serengeti, Tanzania. May 2021
WaterAid/ Sam Vox

Community empowerment

It is crucial that communities are empowered and can take ownership of their WASH facilities and services. To support this, we aim to amplify the voices of local people, by empowering communities to access information about WASH and demand their human rights to water and sanitation.

Advocacy and campaigning

We use all of these experiences and research to raise the profile of WASH in regional and global development spaces – such as the World Health Assembly and COP26 – and advocate for policy change, sector reform and improved financing for WASH.

Learning and adaptation

We regularly reflect on the progress we have made, the lessons we have learned and the changing context. We use this information to adapt and improve what we do.

Five women gathering water from an outdoor Reverse Osmosis plant.
Tahmina Begum, 38, supplies water from the reverse osmosis plant. in Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh. October 2019.
WaterAid/ HSBC/ Habibul Haque

What challenges do we face?

We work in countries where the permanent institutions responsible for delivering these services do not have enough staff or money, nor are they accountable to all sections of the population. Government-led planning, monitoring and budgeting processes can be weak with insufficient finance allocated to major maintenance, behavior change and completion of the sanitation chain. Deeply ingrained power dynamics, as well as gender and social norms can also undermine progress.

There are often barriers that prevent the private sector from getting involved, particularly in rural areas. WASH is not systematically integrated as part of climate adaptation funding and is generally underfunded compared to other human rights such as health and education. The sustainability, scalability and inclusiveness of WASH services are threatened by all these weaknesses in the ‘system’.

We believe that by working together to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene systems, we can achieve our mission and help entire communities unlock their potential, break free from poverty and change their lives for good.

Girls in class
WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

Delivering services

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

Girls smiling in class
WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan

Influencing

To make change happen we influence those people with the power to act. We bring our supporters and local communities together to encourage decision-makers to make the necessary investment in water and sanitation.

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WaterAid/Emily Graham

Fundraising

Your generosity and support is essential to transforming the lives of the world’s poorest people. There are many different ways that you can help.