Ten years to reach everyone, everywhere 

"We have 10 years to achieve our goal to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by 2030. Globally, we have achieved so much over the last decade – but now face substantial risks to realising this. Increasingly, climate change is threatening gains to date and making future progress harder, while COVID-19’s emergence caused significant disruption at the end of the year.

"We are directly delivering fewer services where we install taps and toilets ourselves, and increasing work in two complementary areas; strengthening the systems that are needed for people in the long-term and influencing governments and companies to ensure their policies and practices accelerate positive change.

"We have been prioritising the importance of hygiene for years. It has been one of our four strategic aims since 2015, and COVID-19 has brought greater recognition of hygiene’s role in ensuring the benefits of clean water and decent toilets are immediate, and long-lasting.

"We are determined to translate this recognition of hygiene’s positive impact on public health into relevant funders’ budgets and focused programmes to preserve and enhance the wellbeing of millions of people – including their ability to survive climate change. In March we held a high-level summit with governments and businesses, hosted by our President HRH The Prince of Wales, to develop proposals to unlock more finance to invest in vital water services.

"The links between water, sanitation and hygiene on the one hand, and poverty, public health and climate change on the other, are evident and compelling. We cannot overcome the latter without investing in the former. The positive impact we had last year only happened because of our incredible partners. These range from the UK water industry who founded us, through companies and institutions, to governments, small groups and hundreds of thousands of individuals. On behalf of the people whose lives we touched, we thank you hugely."

- Chief Executive Tim Wainwright and Chair of Trustees Tim Clark

Tim Wainwright and Tim Clark
Chief Executive Tim Wainwright (left) and Chair of Trustees Tim Clark (right.)

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 the spread of COVID-19. We quickly responded, recognising the dynamic nature of transmission and the diverse needs of the countries where we work. It was clear straight away that we would have a vital role to play in helping to reduce the disease’s spread.

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


Illustration of woman at a water point

We supported 5,226 communities to reach the following numbers of people in or near their homes:

  • 315,027 with clean water – by installing 1,315 water points, rehabilitating 1,655 water points, and supporting 94 piped systems
  • 693,722 with decent toilets
  • 236,320 with good hygiene through better facilities, and 1,624,465 through behaviour change activities.
Illustration of teachers

We supported 1,162 schools to reach the following numbers of children and staff:

  • 135,707 with clean water
  • 180,573 with decent toilets
  • 110,959 with good hygiene through better facilities, and 255,548 through behaviour change activities.
Illustration of masked man collecting water

We supported 185 healthcare facilities to reach the following numbers of patient visits and staff:

  • 1,009,302 with clean water
  • 1,012,932 with decent toilets
  • 941,265 with good hygiene through better facilities, and 49,467 through behaviour change activities.
WaterAid/ Apag Annankra

Thanks to our direct delivery in schools in Ghana, children like Comfort (back) and Mary (front) can now wash their hands in separate girls' blocks. 333 boys, 307 girls and their teachers can now use decent toilets for the first time.

By putting our energies into building the capacity of local and national authorities, utilities and, where appropriate, private industry, we can secure people’s sustainable access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene in huge numbers. But that is only half the story. Helping people understand their rights to these essentials, and the duty on their elected representatives to fulfil these rights, is just as vital.

To strengthen the systems needed we work alongside national and local authorities and service providers to improve planning, coordination, performance monitoring, technical implementation, citizens’ engagement, financing models and personnel capacity, appropriate to local contexts. Where necessary we challenge weak performance.

This work is not as immediately dramatic or easy to visualise as drilling a borehole or installing a toilet. But step by step, it builds and builds until the drilling and the installation starts, for many more people than we could reach directly ourselves.

Last year was an exciting time for the Beacon Project, a unique collaboration in Nepal between ourselves, Anglian Water and their Alliance Partners, the Nepalese Government, the Lahan Municipality and the Nepal Water Supply Corporation.

Together we are making water and sanitation services consistent, sustainable and resilient in Lahan, a fast-growing town of around 80,000 people on the Indian border.

Ram Narayan Chaudhary, 53, employee of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation, standing infront of a large water tower, arms folded, holding a wrench, Lahan, Siraha, Nepal, September 2019.
Ram Narayan Chaudhary works for the Nepal Water Supply Corporation in Lahan. He says: “Leakage detection technology is one of the best things I have learned from WaterAid.”
WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

The Beacon Project is operating at an unprecedented scale and marks an exciting new phase of our work to strengthen systems. We have now completed mapping of the region’s pipe networks for the first time using drone surveys and borehole cameras and trained local technicians in how to tackle leaks and improve water quality.

Setting up a partnership of this complexity takes time and careful management, building relationships and understanding of each partner’s realities. But as the project is beginning to show, these efforts are a good investment. 

Influencing for a bigger impact

We saw significant breakthroughs during the year at global and national level thanks to our, and our partners’, influencing work. The World Health Organization’s resolution to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities, and Nepal’s declaration of being open defecation free, were huge steps forward and will positively benefit millions of lives.

Our fundraising 

Our fundraising aim for 2019-20 was to finance our work by:

  • Raising between £92–97 million, with a minimum of £33 million being restricted income.
  • Spending between £92–97 million, with 74%– 78% spent on charitable objectives and 22%–26% spent on raising funds for this and future years.


Total income remained steady from the prior year, when income grew 10%. We had planned for growth again, especially from UK government and other European funding, but it proved difficult to reach the level of our ambition for 2019-20, much of this due to uncertainty over Brexit. However, this was a very successful year for income in other areas with continued year on year growth in unrestricted funding from the UK public.

This included 2% growth of income from individuals, with the numbers of individuals giving regularly, rising from 355,979 to 359,595 and growth in legacy income by £1.2m, 15%.

We believe COVID-19 will lead to income significantly falling in 2020-21, with corporate, water industry and events income particularly hard hit. However the partnership we have with individuals throughout the UK is providing the resilient financial platform to deliver our mission, which is ever more relevant to tackle this pandemic.

Graphic showing income is £91.4 million


Total expenditure grew by over £12m, 15%, from the previous financial year. This growth was predominantly in our programme work as we commenced delivery of the programmes we had secured long-term funding for from institutional funders in the prior year, as signposted in that year’s annual report.

Other key expenditure that accounts for the difference is related to moving our London office, the costs for which will bridge the two financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The costs of bringing the office into operation and the lease will, over the term of the lease, save us money compared to remaining in Vauxhall.

Graphic showing expenditure was £95 million


Comparing income and expenditure over the last five years


Graphic showing in every £1 we spent 76p on delivering services and 24p on fundraising and governance.


Thank you

So much of our work is only possible because of the passion and commitment of individuals and organisations who share our vision of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene for everyone, everywhere.

WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala