Climate change and COVID–19 threaten our ability to bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to everyone, everywhere. In 2019–20, we tackled them head on.

We have ten years left to reach everyone, everywhere by 2030. Globally, we have achieved so much in the Sustainable Development Goal period – but now face substantial risks to realising this and other Goals.

With climate change increasingly threatening gains and making progress harder, and COVID-19 causing significant disruption, what we do is more relevant and urgent than ever, and we have a vital part to play in overcoming both challenges.

To maximise our impact, we have been progressively shifting our focus to directly deliver fewer services, increasing work in two complementary areas. First, we are strengthening the systems needed for people to benefit from these essentials long into the future – such as effective utility management, equipment quality and maintenance and community involvement. And second, we are influencing governments and companies to ensure their policies and practices accelerate positive change. Scroll down to explore highlights of our push into this Decade of Action.


As the year under review came to a close, around one third of humanity was under some form of lockdown while governments attempted to contain COVID-19. We quickly responded, recognising the dynamic nature of transmission and the diverse needs of the countries where we work.

By the end of March, many of our country offices had helped to shape national emergency response plans through government-led working groups and civil society platforms. We built on existing hygiene behaviour change initiatives, quickly adapting these to amplify key COVID-19 hygiene messages through digital, social and mass media channels. And almost all our country teams had installed new handwashing stations in key locations.

Discover our reach

Last year, with our partners, we reached millions of people through our work in communities, schools and healthcare centres, and through our advocacy.

Graphic reading 'direct reach'

Graphic illustrating a woman using a handpump.

​​​​​​​We supported communities to reach the following numbers of people:


  • 400,000 with clean water
  • 700,000 with decent toilets
  • 1,900,000 with good hygiene



Graphic illustrating two children learning about water, sanitation and hygiene at school

We supported schools to reach the following numbers of people:



  • 180,000 with clean water
  • 210,000 with decent toilets
  • 1,100,000 with good hygiene



Graphic illustrating a man wearing a face mask drawing water from a tap.

We supported healthcare facilities to reach people for the following numbers of visits:

  • 1,000,000 with clean water
  • 1,300,000 with decent toilets
  • 1,300,000 with good hygiene
Graphic reading 'influencing'.

Clipboard graphic

We strengthened local systems

Much of our work focuses on building strong WASH systems at district or municipality level to ensure access lasts and reaches everyone. Last year, we worked in more than 150 districts to support and strengthen government leadership, institutional processes and policies, and community empowerment at a local level.

Graphic illustrating campaigning

We influenced policies, strategies and standards around the world

Last year we helped secure changes to national policies, strategies or standards in ten countries to benefit people living without clean water, decent toilets or good hygiene. See more on what we achieved in Malawi on the map below.

Megaphone graphic

We advocated globally and regionally

At the World Health Assembly in May, a groundbreaking resolution was unanimously passed which we had campaigned hard for: to improve WASH in healthcare facilities. See the map below for more on our work with the Zambian Government to make this reality.

We count users of the services we provide directly in different ways, according to where we reach them:

• In or near people’s homes – population served by water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
• Schools – school population plus staff.
• Healthcare facilities – total number of patient visits over one year plus staff.

We count people as having been reached with good hygiene through behaviour change activities when they have been exposed to those activities at least three times in a year.


We work in 34 countries across the world. Click the markers on the map below to explore just some stories from our work last year.

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Our partnerships

Explore our partnership stories

Together with our partners, we have a bigger impact. Here are just eight examples of our partnerships with governments, businesses and civil society organisations across the world. Click on a droplet and follow the icon buttons to explore stories of our work with the UK Department for International Development (DfID); Marie Stopes International; H&M Foundation; Action Against Hunger and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN); the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank; World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Earthwatch and HSBC; and PepsiCo.


Our international partnerships include:

European Commission
World Bank

Anglian Water
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Conrad Hilton Foundation
H&M Foundation
The Helmsley Trust
HSBC Holdings Plc
Kimberly Clark corporation
Northumbrian water
One Drop Foundation
Pepsico foundation
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery (UK)
Reckitt Benckiser
Swedish Postcode Lottery
Swedish Radio Appeal Board
Who Gives a Crap
Latter Day Saints Charities
Global Environment and Technology Foundation

UK Department for International Development
Swedish International Development Agency
Japan International Co-operation Agency
The Government of Japan
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Global Affairs Canada
United States Agency for International Development

Finances and governance

In 2019-20, our global income was £112 million.

Erslene, 35, waterpoint 15 attendent, counting money from water sales, Miandrivazo, Madagascar, 2012.
Image: WaterAid/ Anna Kari

From 2015–16 to 2019–20 our income grew from £94 million to £112 million.

A chart showing WaterAid's income over five years to 2019-20.

For the year 2019–20, 47% of our income came from individuals, 13% came from major donors and trusts, 15% came from corporate donors and 25% came from institutions and other sources.

A pie chart showing the percentages of our income from each type of source.

61% of our spend went to programmes and policy; 26% to fundraising and communications; and 13% to central functions.

A pie chart showing the percentages of our expenditure spent on each area of activity.

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

How we work

Discover how we change lives through our key aims

Work with us

Together we make a bigger difference to more people

Our global strategy

See our federation's approach