Our history

Since 1986, we have gone from strength to strength to ensure clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene for everyone, everywhere. This is our story.

Image: WaterAid/Prashanth Vishwanathan

WaterAid UK started work on access to water in southern India.


Our focus was rehabilitation and revival of defunct hand pumps.

1992 - 1995

We started guiding and supporting communities to manage water points, such as hand pumps to ensure lasting access to water. 

1995 - 2000

We widened our work -- from focussing on only water to an integrated approach towards WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). 

2000 - 2005

We expanded our reach from southern India to states in central and north India, with a focus on marginalised communities. 

2005 - 2008

We demonstrated replicable models for clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene with government programmes to scale-up impact.

2008 - 2010

For continued water access, we empowered communities to know their rights and supported them to participate in the development of policies and practices.


WaterAid India reached 536,266 people with access to water supply, and 353,144 people with access to sanitation facilities. The majority of the users belong to Dalits, Adivasis, primitive tribal groups, people with disabilities, PLWHA communities and the urban poor.

Supported the department of PHED in Bihar to draft their state water and sanitation policy, and facilitated the Bihar State Water Resource department to gather civil society inputs on water resource management in the state.

With the aim to promote and secure poor people’s rights and access to safe WASH, 72 communities were reached through citizen's engagement and were enabled to demand their right to water through the Citizen’s Action in Jharkhand. 98,330 people gained access to safe drinking water and 89,867 people gained access to sanitation in 57 Gram Panchayats of 6 blocks across 6 districts. The Citizens' Charter for WASH was prepared and submitted to the Speaker of the Jharkhand State Assembly and to Members of the Legislative Assembly.


All the projects focused on strengthening the community’s demand for water and sanitation facilities. The success of the same was demonstrated in access to water and sanitation being ensured for 77,918 people without any investment in hardware creation. Approximately INR 11.7 million was leveraged from the government and the community contributed INR 4.2 million.

Village water security plans (VWSPs) were developed in Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad authorities were influenced to explore the possibility of bringing in a uniform system for tracking water quality data.


In Jharkhand, the state department was supported with the development of Jalsahiya (Friend of Water – the frontline workers in the villages) Operational Manual. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, the state government was supported with the development of an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manual.

In Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh partners supported reorganizing and strengthening the village-level institutions to be more representative, and mandated to be responsible for Health, Nutrition and WASH. In Chhattisgarh, Ambikapur district supported to revive the slipped-back Panchayats to a state of total sanitation. The Uttar Pradesh state government supported by WAI developed its state water and sanitation policy.

WaterAid’s works on People Panchayat Partnership (PPP) model for improved O&M, Arsenic Mitigation, and drinking water security was recognized as best practices by the central ministry and planning commission.

Overall, 454,736 water, 297,168 sanitation users and 362,643 hygiene users were reached during the year, and INR 44,34,71,507 was leveraged from the Government.


In many states, the village water sanitation committees were restructured to integrate health and nutrition into their mandate, which provided an opportunity for strengthening convergence into a reality. Block Resources Centers, were set up which were key to the capacity development of Block level functionaries and front-line workers.

During the year our interventions facilitated 673 new water sources, and the restoration of 159 defunct water facilities. The majority of these were works undertaken by the government, in response to demand generated by the community at the behest of VWSC with greater control over designs, decisions and implementation. The responsibility for water quality and O&M was shared between the local government and the people.

People Panchayat Partnership (PPP) was piloted in UP in which village youth were trained as hand pump mechanics and equipped with tools, spares, and communication which acted as service centers for hand pump repair and troubleshooting. The model was successful in addressing the hand pump downtime in the drought-prone and water-scarce villages in Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh.


WaterAid India reached 465,809 water, 373,874 sanitation and 732,546 hygiene users during the year.

In total during the year, 774 water sources were supported with WaterAid funds, of these 34 were new sources and 740 were rehabilitation of existing sources.

All the above-mentioned sources were tested for water quality. Partners were supported with field test kits, and the local government water quality monitoring systems were activated. Trained VWSC and community groups, used the local government’s field-testing kits to monitor water quality in their villages.

In Flouride affected Nuapada (Odisha) district village water and sanitation committees (VWSC) were formed to manage water security, which included qualitative execution of projects for source creation, operation and maintenance of drinking water sources through establishing the system of user’s fee collection and source augmentation using fund from other developmental and flagship programmes like MNREGA.

During the year, in Andhra Pradesh through the fluoride mitigation project, identified water sources in the project area were tested by the community groups or partners and shared with the government demanding action on mitigation. As part of Phailin (Cyclone) rehabilitation works, nearly 734 water sources were cleaned and disinfected.

During the year, 36 villages water security plans were developed in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.


During the year, 15,655 local government leaders, 3,249 government officials, 25,344 members of local institutions, 24,705 frontline workers, 4,993 teachers, 3293 members of the school management committee and 13,155 school cabinet members were trained on WASH.

WaterAid India provided technical inputs and supported the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, in the roll-out of the Guidelines on Water and Sanitation to local government leaders. At the national level, WAI strengthened its engagement with WASH sector institutions and beyond. Being part of the ‘Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security’ (CFNS), WaterAid co-hosted the South Asia conference on food and nutrition security, in which the importance of integrating WASH in programming and performance monitoring within nutrition programmes was emphasized.

WaterAid India reached 6,81,564 water users, 8,92,230 sanitation users and 24,76,638 people under hygiene.

56,755 members of community institutions like VWSCs, SHGs and CBOs have been trained and engaged in the planning processes.

At the district and sub-district level, support was extended on rolling out and implementing the programmes, 81 village-level integrated WASH plans were developed, and local governments were supported to follow up on these to secure resources and implement them.

195 user committees with 3,598 members comprising village water and sanitation committees were promoted during the year and trained on O&M of water sources. 24,344 members of Village Water Sanitation Committees (or Mohalla Committees in slum context) were trained on their roles and responsibilities during the year, across the operational areas.


WAI supported the Department of Education in Andhra Pradesh to develop comprehensive guidelines and a plan of operations and maintenance (O&M) of WASH infrastructure in Schools.

Through our community mobilization, we reached 7,03,925 people with access to water, 1,123,180 people with access to sanitation and 1,887,253 people with hygiene education.

During the year, we trained 10,730 Local Government Members, 26,137 Government frontline workers, 7,371 schoolteachers, 5,601 masons and 15,566 Government officials on WASH services.

WaterAid India led campaigns on WASH as integral to children’s right to education, the rights of the homeless to WASH, the role of youth in development and mobilizing support for Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

WaterAid India supported central ministries in developing films on water conservation and sanitation, which were regularly broadcast on national channels.


WaterAid India reached 603,716 people with access to water; 1,171,524 with access to sanitation and 1,634,938 people with hygiene education.

We worked in 11, States, 43 Districts; 302 Blocks; 4,074 Gram Panchayats; 11 Cities/Towns; 1,273 Slums; 3,869 Schools; 448 Health Care and 3,657 Anganwadi centers.

WaterAid India supported the Madhya Pradesh state campaign on the restoration of the defunct piped water scheme – “Nal se Jal, Aaj aur Kal.” In our intervention districts, Sehore and Datia, INR 12.2 million were leveraged in 74 Gram panchayats.

The MoU with the State Government of Bihar is a critical milestone. Jal Choupal as a platform for participatory planning was recognised by the state government as a successful model.

WaterAid India collaborated with Network18 for their Jal Daan campaign which resulted in the channel featuring WaterAid India’s work in five separate programmes.


WaterAid India’s baseline assessment findings reflected that the majority of the communities gained basic access to water supply through community hand pumps, the need was felt to focus on improving services to household connection and addressing sustainability and quality gaps.

In Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, support was given in the formation of a Drinking Water Committee under the Multi Village pipe water supply scheme and capacity building was conducted for 14 committees in Budhni block where the Mardanpur multi-village piped water scheme was being implemented.

Multiple training and dissemination workshops were organized in Sehore, Kanker and Kamareddy focusing on institutionalizing water quality monitoring at the community level, with necessary support from district departments.

As part Technical Support MoU with the state government of Bihar, WaterAid India developed a Uniform Drinking Water Quality Protocol and trained all lab chemists of the state on the protocol.

WaterAid India worked in 21 Districts; 247 Gram Panchayats; 394 villages and ensured 2,701 households with piped water supply and 1,038 other public water points, 272 Schools had systems of monitoring handwashing before midday meals, 1 Spring protection; O&M systems promoted in 85 communities; Youth cadre was trained on Water quality monitoring systems in 103 communities; 18 Rainwater harvesting structures were created and 125 groundwater recharge measures were undertaken and 197 Para hydrologists were trained on water security measures.

Jal Chaupal (participatory decision-making) was actioned in two states Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, linking local processes from the Gram Panchayat to district, state and national levels. This resulted in communities from three districts initiating actions on rainwater harvesting and conservation measures.


WaterAid India’s work during the year focused on village-level water quality monitoring and studies on functionalities that triggered government response in four districts namely Nuapada (Odisha), Sehore and Dindori (Madhya Pradesh) and Kanker (Chhattisgarh). WaterAid India worked closely with governments at all levels (state, district, block, and panchayat) in an effort to bridge the gaps in implementation.

Significant enhancement of community-wide rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge measures was undertaken in 17 out of 24 WaterAid India direct intervention rural projects.

WaterAid India reached 1,17,403 people with water, 3,21,990 people with sanitation and 4,37,130 people with hygiene.

We supported the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) of Bihar with an assessment of 13 Drinking water supply systems (Including Arsenic, Fluoride and Iron removal plants) in 4 districts. Findings were shared with senior officials at state and district through Video Conferencing by the Secretary and orders for Action Taken Reports (ATR) issued.

Water testing kits for all the Gram Panchayats were provided in Kanker (Chhattisgarh), Sehore and Dindori (Madhya Pradesh). In 185 Gram Panchayats, Self Help Groups (SHG) members were trained and used the kits to test and reported the findings, through Block to district labs. This strengthened the case for advocacy for decentralized water quality monitoring.


During the year 750 rainwater and conservation structures were promoted in 85 Gram Panchayats and four cities; In addition, through government leverage in Banda and Kanker districts we were able to achieve district-wide conservation measures resulting in 2,500 field ponds restored and 5,000 rainwater harvesting structures. The estimated investment in this by the Government and people was INR 300 million. The recharge Capacity created was 4 million Cubic Meters in the two districts. Work in Banda found a mention in the Limca Book of Records for the greatest number of contour trenches built.

WaterAid India reached 11,068 households with functional tap connections in the households. Of this reach, 9,779 (89%) were completely funded by Government.

WaterAid India reached out to 4,81,161 people with water, 3,46,338 people with sanitation and 4,37,130 people with hygiene.

Water security plans and water quality testing were initiated in 12 districts in five states (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala), 71 village water security plans were developed, which were integrated into the village action plans of the local governments.

Trained women leaders tested 10,000 water samples. The findings were shared with the communities and concerned stakeholders.

Documentation of five different models of community-managed piped water supply to derive lessons for Jal Jeevan Mission on community participation, operations and maintenance. A policy learning summary was prepared and the same was disseminated to the Jal Jeevan Mission team to incorporate operations and maintenance in the programme. Role of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Piped Water Supply Schemes was prepared in consultation with various stakeholders to inform the Jal Jeevan Mission task force members.

Our advocacy with the health ministry of Uttar Pradesh led to the directive to include rainwater harvesting systems in all (nearly 4,000) Hospitals of Uttar Pradesh.

WaterAid’s flood response in Bihar (flood in Madhubani district) - reached 1000 families with WASH resources, including hand pump-based water quality treatment devices, water filters for schools, and Zimba Chlorination units in 8 flood shelters.


Through the "Sustainable Access to Safe Water" (SAS) project, which received support from WaterAid America and the PepsiCo Foundation, WaterAid India successfully provided access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services and promoted behaviour change in three locations: Nelamangala, Palakkad, and Sri City. Through the project, a total of 284,000 individuals were reached. Additionally, WAI implemented water harvesting and groundwater recharge structures, with a collective annual capacity to store 2 million cubic meters of water, contributing to sustainable water management in these areas. Funds were leveraged from both state and central government programs and community contributions. Water conservation works were recognised as models in Kerala State.

The water replenishment project was implemented in Karnataka (Gulbarga, Raichur districts) to promote rainwater harvesting structures. The project was able to create 160,000 cubic meters of groundwater recharge capacity. In multiple locations, 371 rainwater harvesting structures have been promoted enhancing the total storage/recharge capacity by 697,000 cubic Meters.

WAI as part of National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) for implementation of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) constituted by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), prepared a technical manual on grey water management appropriate for rural areas.

As part of the Jal Jeevan Mission, we as the technical partner to Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Madhya Pradesh, helped develop the first District Action Plan for Burhanpur district, following this the Government issued a tender for INR 1,290 million. In addition to the Burhanpur district-wide plan, in six other districts in the state, we helped 1,462 Village Action Plans and work orders issued by PHED to an estimated value of more than INR 5,000 million.

In Uttar Pradesh, WaterAid India signed a three-year tripartite non-financial MoU with Nagar Panchayat, Bakshi Ka Talab. This partnership provided technical support to the ULB towards establishing and strengthening systems for mapping and renovation of water bodies; rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and faecal sludge management.

In Dindori, Madhya Pradesh 100% spring-based household piped water supply in Katharia village were promoted.

During the year 2,742 water sources were tested for quality on all parameters and 1,676 sources for fluoride monitoring. In addition to testing as part of compliance, the majority of the sources were tested by local women and youth, taking charge of the local water quality monitoring. A total of 554 women and youth were trained during the year on the use of field-testing kits, and 634 water quality field-testing kits were mobilised from the Government.


WaterAid India worked in 13 states, 40 districts, 2685 villages, 8 cities, 117 slums, 782 schools, 486 anganwadis, and 99 healthcare centers.

6,04,692 people with water, 3,70,673 people with sanitation and 81,400 people with hygiene were reached.

We worked in sync with the government authority in providing access to clean water through piped water supply schemes and in our intervention areas which are full of distinct geographies we covered four tribal villages in Nuapada and Debagarh in Odisha with household-level piped water supply. In some remote villages of Hooghly, Bankura, and Purba Bardhaman regions of West Bengal, we were able to establish 30 piped water supply schemes in the communities with a majority of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population, and reached out to 3,840 people.

In an endeavour to recharge groundwater in Jallipeta, Chittoor, WaterAid India, in collaboration with a donor organisation, worked on two wells that had been drilled by the government at a depth of 800 feet, and had dried up as the groundwater levels fell. These were converted into recharge shafts of 27 cubic meter volume which were filled with filter media up to 60 per cent of their depth. Then a small stream was diverted towards the recharge structure to increase the quantum of stormwater to be recharged ensuring the sustainability of the existing borewell. Once finished, the total catchment area for recharging the abandoned borewells was 37.5 acres with an annual recharge potential of 24.53 million liters.

In Bhadrak, Odisha is a multi-disaster-prone district. Natural disasters like floods and cyclones occur every year. During these times, access to clean water and safe sanitation becomes challenging. WaterAid India renovated nine public water sources which included six hand pumps, which catered to the needs of 1473 people.

372 wastewater management models were developed in three districts. 100 greywater management structures were developed in Madhya Pradesh.


WaterAid India reached out to 2,60,383 individuals with water, 2.39,533 with sanitation and 3,41,485 with hygiene services.

WaterAid India was designated as a thematic lead on Grey Water Management, Operation & Maintenance of Piped Water Supply Systems (PWSS), WASH in Institutions, and gender in WASH, in the Rural WASH Partners' Forum (a platform created by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, under Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India).

A training module was standardised for trainings to build capacities of PRIs and Village Water Sanitation Committees (VWSCs) in Chhattisgarh as part of WAI’s Key Resource Centre (KRC, Level 3) commitment to the JJM.

The year 2022 witnessed the culmination of Women+ Water Alliance (W+W) project. This was a six-year Global Development Alliance (GDA) between USAID and Gap Inc. and WaterAid. WAI was a partner in this Alliance since 2019. It was committed to ensure access to clean drinking water to communities in five districts in Madhya Pradesh and two districts in Maharashtra, India, which improved access to water, water resource management, and water quality in 40 blocks and 2,400 Villages. Of the 2494 plans submitted 2,135 plans were approved by the department, ensuring access to functional tap connections to 5,19,807 households in 4464 habitations.

WaterAid India constructed First Rural FSTP in Chhattisgarh state for cluster of five villages at Patora Village in Patan Block of Durg District.

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