In 2017-18 we helped millions of people achieve clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by working together with communities, governments, businesses and civil society organisations. 

By working in partnership, we have strengthened institutions, provided models for others to replicate, and advocated for changes in policy and practice.

Our aims are interconnected and complementary. They are:

  • Equality – we tackle the inequalities that prevent the poorest and most marginalised people from realising their rights to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

  • Sustainable services – we support governments and service providers to strengthen systems to deliver services that last. 

  • Integration – we work with others to accelerate change by integrating water, sanitation and hygiene into sustainable development. 

  • Hygiene – we positively influence hygiene behaviour to maximise the benefits of access to clean water and decent toilets. 

You can find examples of our impact on these aims by clicking on the links below:

A map of the 34 countries in which we work

Where we work

It is hugely satisfying to see firsthand how, by working directly with communities to install clean water and decent toilets, and to improve hygiene, we help them transform their lives. This vital aspect of our work not only provides direct benefit but also keeps us connected to the people we serve, and allows us to test and prove new approaches.

For an even bigger impact, we actively promote these approaches for others to use. To make such transformations normal for everyone, everywhere by 2030, we also work with others – especially governments, businesses and civil society organisations. This means we can spark chain reactions that secure greater improvements than we could achieve by ourselves. 

In Mali, for example, we ran a programme over three years to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene into 23 health care facilities with a combined catchment of over 1.8 million people. We then produced good practice guidelines based on the experience, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization. Other partners are using these to improve another 450 facilities across the country. 

Combining direct delivery with this kind of collaboration and influencing is the heart of our global strategy. 

Together, the world as a whole has many successes to celebrate. Since 2000, 1.4 billion people have gained access to clean water and decent toilets. 

But this progress is nowhere near fast enough. Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That is almost 800 children a day.

At our current pace, everyone in low- and middle-income countries will only have safely managed water by 2064, and safely managed sanitation by 2107. This is a crisis, and we all need to address it with more urgency.

To ensure we combine our own efforts as effectively as possible, the seven national members of the WaterAid Federation - Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Sweden, the UK and the US - all share the same global strategy. Together we focus on:

Achievements at a glance

Together with our partners we reached millions of people like Matu from Sierra Leone who directly benefited from our work installing clean water and decent toilets, and promoting good hygiene, in their homes, schools and healthcare centers.

Matu, 40, poses at the new pump in Tombohuaun, Kailahun District, Sierra Leone, January 2018.
Image: WaterAid/Nana Kofi Acquah
Examples of our impact text box


We provided clean water to:

 people in households1

 people in schools1

 people in healthcare centres1

Toilet Icon

We delivered decent toilets to:

 people in households1

 people in schools1

 people in healthcare centres1

Handwashing icon

With good hygiene, we reached:

people in households1, 2

people in schools1, 2

people in healthcare centres1, 2

In addition to our direct reach numbers above, we:

Worked with governments to change .

Improved water service management in .

Strengthened management capacity to deliver clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in .

We indirectly benefited millions by influencing and strengthening the policies and practices of governments, businesses and civil society organisations, so that we can spark lasting change on a bigger scale.

We do this by:

  • Convincing governments to change laws and policies
  • Strengthening service providers’ capacity
  • Changing attitudes and behaviours
  • Pooling knowledge and resources
  • Rallying support from people and organisations around the world.

Our cause receives huge support from the general public worldwide, with over 400,000 people actively volunteering, donating and campaigning.


Together with our partners we are determined to reach everyone, whatever their gender, age or ability, like Rekha from Nepal. Water and sanitation are human rights; it is each UN Member States’ duty to ensure everyone can claim them equally.

Image: Rekha from Nepal. WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

We and other organisations are increasingly understanding and addressing why people do not have these services. We are also supporting them to engage with governments to make decent facilities normal for everyone. But slow progress and weak accountability mean millions of people are still being left behind. 

Empowering people to claim their rights, and holding governments responsible for addressing discrimination, brings long-term changes in attitudes, policies and laws. We are working to change and strengthen systems so that everyone’s rights are fulfilled, sustainably.

Examples of our impact text box

Image: Suon Nai, 30, with her son En Chea, 8. WaterAid/ Tom Greenwood

Together with partners in Cambodia we are committed to building a workforce of skilled professionals to deliver and sustain water, sanitation and hygiene services. Women face significant barriers, so we are working in partnership to provide them with relevant training, skills and mentoring to boost their study, career and leadership opportunities.

Image: Bijeshwori from Nepal. WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

In a unique project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we teamed up with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to understand challenges that young disabled women face in Nepal. Using research findings, we developed an intervention so women could manage their periods more independently.

Image: Muluken, Water Utility Manager, Ethiopia. WaterAid/ Behailu Shiferaw

In Debre Tabor, Ethiopia, we made sure 410 more households now have water, and at cheaper rates previously only available to wealthier residents. Through our Twenty Towns project with Yorkshire Water we linked service providers with the town’s customer forum, who supported poor households to jointly fund installing shared taps.

Sustainable services

To make a lasting difference, clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene need to remain a normal part of daily life long after being introduced. This takes the right skills and financing, strong utilities and supporting systems, and tried and tested behaviour change.

Image: Mary from Uganda, WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

Recognition is growing of the need to invest in these areas, but action has been slow. Too many other organisations simply build facilities and hand them to communities without ensuring they can be maintained. Facilities break, and people return to unhealthy habits. 

By strengthening every part of the systems involved, from the national to the local and adapting to each context, we help communities feel the benefits long after we have gone.

Examples of our impact text box

Image: Constructing a rainwater harvesting tank in Wawa Bar, Nicaragua. WaterAid/ Eduardo Rodriguez

Together with partners in Nicaragua, we launched a hub for affordable technologies – the Smart Centre. With private and public sectors involved, we reached over 4,600 people with water filter technology, in-line chlorination in piped drinking water supply systems and rooftop rainwater catchment systems.

Image: Mary from Uganda. WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

We examined 600 hand pumps and boreholes installed by governments and other organisations in Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi to investigate why they sometimes stop functioning. Finding poor implementation to be the main problem, we published guidelines to build high quality, lasting facilities.

Image: Shared toilet and water facilities in Mollar Bosti, Bangladesh. WaterAid/ Rasel Chowdhury

Since 2015 our co-compost plant in Sakhipur, Bangladesh, has been turning toilet waste into a valuable resource. This year it turned 990 tons of waste into 22 tons of compost, and attracted government interest as a model solution to sewage challenges.


The challenges that marginalised people face cannot be separated into isolated issues – so neither can the solutions. Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are an essential foundation for people's human rights.

Anguyo Jackson, 13, at her school in Nansana Municipality, Uganda
Image: WaterAid/James Kiyimba

By integrating plans and policies between different sectors, such as health, nutrition and education, we can make a bigger difference. However, despite growing interest in this, governments are rarely integrating work across sectors. Opportunities are being missed, and progress restricted. 

Leaders need proof that integration works, so we are sharing evidence from our work and beyond, to influence change at local and global levels. 

Examples of our impact text box

Image: Sada with her baby Jafary, Tanzania. WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

In Tanzania we are improving maternal and child health for over 660,000 people by providing water and sanitation services at 12 obstetric and neonatal care clinics. We constructed waste incinerators and placenta pits in all of the centres, and water sources in half of them, and trained health workers and others in sanitation and hygiene best practice.

Image: Shamoli from Bangladesh. WaterAid/ Abir Abdullah

In Bangladesh we worked with the Shorno Kishoree Network Foundation, a network of 5,000 adolescent girls on a special programme on girl-friendly toilets and proper menstrual hygiene management in schools. The network enabled the girls to learn and speak openly about menstrual health, and brought national attention to the challenges girls face staying healthy in school.

Image: Dr Dramane Daou, Mali. WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

In Mali we joined with the World Health Organization to help revive a national taskforce to improve hygiene in hospitals and clinics. By encouraging better collaboration and integration across the health and the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors, the taskforce will help health care centres to be as clean as everyone should expect.


We welcome the increasing global attention being paid to hygiene. However, this has focused mostly on handwashing with soap, when people benefit more by combining this with food hygiene, staying clean during their periods, and keeping homes and hospitals clean.

Image: Madina at the new facilities at her school in Mozambique, WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

This takes more than adequate facilities – hygienic habits are essential. And changing behaviours is hard. But growing evidence shows that behavioural psychology approaches work better than traditional one-off hygiene lessons. 

Our experience also demonstrates what is needed to make it normal for everyone, everywhere to practise good hygiene. Integrating a package of interventions, including evidence-based hygiene promotion with water and sanitation improvements, and with health, nutrition and education policies, is key.

Examples of our impact text box

Image: Schoolgirls in Timor-Leste. WaterAid/ Tom Greenwood

In Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, we started a new partnership with Marie Stopes International to deliver services and increased awareness on sexual and reproductive health, and menstrual hygiene practices. The three-year project will enable over 9,000 women and girls to use their choice of contraception, and improve knowledge among nearly 15,000 girls, boys adults.  

Image: School children in Mozambique. WaterAid/ Sam James

In Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Bangladesh we researched and designed creative hygiene promotion campaigns for use at local level. Together with governments we designed different packages for communities, schools and health care workers, so they are more likely to motivate people to healthy habits.

Image: Lilian, community volunteer. WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

During the cholera outbreak in Lusaka, Zambia, we worked with the Government promoting good hygiene in
the city’s worst affected areas. Combined with a vaccination programme, this helped to stem the spread of the disease.

Our Partnerships

Together, we have a bigger impact. Here are just a few examples of our partnerships with governments, businesses and civil society organisations.

Image: Village women collecting water in Khulna, Bangladesh. WaterAid/ Abir Abdullah

HSBC supply chains in India and Bangladesh

Together with HSBC we launched a new three year project to improve the sustainability of apparel supply chains in India and Bangladesh. By advancing water management and transforming working and living conditions we will change thousands of lives.

Image: Tenalem, electrician at Debre Tabor Water Utility. WaterAid/ Behailu Shiferaw

Yorkshire Water, Twenty Towns project

We continued our project with Yorkshire Water, linking their experts with utilities and municipalities in 20 Ethiopian towns. It strengthened the utilities’ ability to deliver improved and lasting services to the towns’ nearly one million residents. The team has shared valuable skills including leak management, water testing and customer billing.

Image: Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, India. WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan

Plan International and Unicef

Working together with Plan International and Unicef, we researched and created guidance on how to reach people in the most remote areas of the world. Our guidance will help policy-makers to design, fund and build services that will work best in their context.

Image: Promoting Untapped in London. WaterAid/ Oliver Dixon

DFID, Andrex and Belu, Untapped

For our Untapped campaign, our partners Andrex reached 1.25 million people through cash machine advertising and ethical water company Belu reached almost 2 million people, while raising over £40,000 through their customers and D&D London. Our supporters surpassed expectations and the UK Government matched donations. Together, we raised £8.2 million, enough to reach 250,000 people.

Image: Mandari with her daughter Sarita. WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

Government of Nepal, maternal hygiene

Our ground-breaking initiative with the Government of Nepal meant that the proportion of mothers practicing good hygiene increased from 2% to 53%. Cases of diarrhoea fell from 15% to 5%. We trained healthcare workers to motivate tens of thousands of mothers to practise breastfeeding, handwashing, food hygiene, water treatment and faeces management. 

Image: Garden Compund, Lusaka, Zambia. WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

Gates Foundation and Gavi, action on cholera

At the World Health Assembly we co-hosted an event with the Global Taskforce on Cholera Control, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. We rallied countries and partners to reduce cholera deaths by 90% by 2030. The plan calls for governments to prioritise clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene – alongside quality health care and vaccinations.

Image: Marie from Madagascar. WaterAid/ Sam James

Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

JICA is leading the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa, to help governments implement nutrition policies faster. In response to our advocacy work on integrating water, sanitation and hygiene with other sectors including nutrition, JICA asked us to lead a workshop on the issue – together we strengthened their policies and practices.

Image: Imalingat from Uganda. WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

Our partnership with SIDA goes beyond matching funds to specific projects. Together we are committed to leaving no one behind, with a strong focus on gender equality. We pursue our shared vision and values in the global policy arena, through national advocacy and local development activity. It is an approach we are keen to replicate with other partners. 

To discuss how we could work together, please 



Between 2017-18, our net global income was £102.1 million, and our net global spend was £95.7 million.

Image: WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan
Net Global Income and Spend
Net income and spend

For the year 2017-18, 47% of our income came from individuals. 30% came from major donors, trusts and corporates, and 23% came from institutions. 

Over half our spend went to programmes, 3% on policy and campaigns, 3% on communications, 24% on fundraising efforts, 2% was depreciation, foreign exchange and other costs and 13% was spent on governance, finance, IT, people and organisational development.  

These summary accounts are based on audited accounts for each federation member. Please see each member’s annual report for details.  

Net global income is net of transfers from other members. Net global spend is net of other member funding.


1. Numbers for households and schools = people who use these services every day. Numbers for healthcare facilities = the population each facility exists to serve, adjusted to reflect the scale of alternative / private provision. 

2. People reached either through facilities or sustained promotion. Hygiene promotion numbers are estimates of people reached with hygiene promotion messages at least three times in a year through local marketing campaigns in communities, in schools and via local health services.