While clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene should be a normal part of daily life for everyone, everywhere, for many people in urban areas and small towns, they are not.

Without these basics, the people suffer ill-health, miss out on an education and lack opportunities to support themselves and their families.

Getting clean water and decent toilets to informal settlements in cities is often complex, and no easier in smaller towns. People often have to rely on informal water vendors, who charge much more than formal service providers.

WaterAid and urban WASH

Most urban dwellers rely on on-site sanitation. They use septic tanks and pit latrines (which are often not emptied). Disease outbreaks are increasing in these high-density settlements, with huge consequences for public health and development.

  • We help build community level models around clean water and decent toilets. Strong community cadres, like Basti Vikas Manch, are a key strength of the programme.
  • We also facilitate and promote community institutions, like Mohalla Samiti, to advocate for and ensure clean water and decent toilets to urban communities. We also work closely with the local municipality and provide technical support for faecal sludge management.
  • The programme also entails promoting strong community cadres in form of Nari Nirmal Awas Samiti in urban slums. These collective primarily interface to demand access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

Our approach

We take a holistic, city/town-wide approach to improve access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in urban areas. This takes into account a range of development issues, from planning to land tenure. We work with people living in informal settlements to ensure their voices are heard when new services are being designed, implemented or monitored, so that their needs are addressed. We support water utilities and municipal authorities to develop approaches that are inclusive, affordable and flexible.

Key impact

We have demonstrated innovations on getting water, sanitation, and hygiene services for the unauthorised slums in Ujjain and Bhopal. The focus is on the homeless and migrants from among the urban poor. In Delhi, community cadres have been actively involved in ensuring that clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are available to their communities. Citizen monitoring is being strengthened in three cities, namely Bhopal, Ujjain and Hyderabad. A GIS based mapping for water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure in slums in Lucknow have taken up as process of mobilising existing database, so that the city government can use the updated data in their planning.

Know our niche and themes on which WaterAid India works.

Make a donation today

Make a difference today! Just Rs 500 a month can help change someone's life.

Stories of impact

How our work has changed the lives of people across India.