Modern Slavery statement

We have produced this statement in accordance with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. In it, we document the processes that WaterAid has in place to prevent slavery and trafficking within the organisation. 

At WaterAid, we take our obligations very seriously in promoting ethical working practices globally. We have a zero-tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking, both in our own organisation and also with our corporate partners and supply chains. 

Our organisational structure

WaterAid is a global federation of member organisations working in 34 countries worldwide. Our members work together to deliver our Global Strategy and achieve our vision. WaterAid members are comprised of WaterAid UK, WaterAid Sweden, WaterAid Canada, WaterAid Australia, WaterAid America, WaterAid Japan and WaterAid India. WaterAid UK is the largest member organisation working in 21 countries across Africa and Asia. 

Members are independent and interdependent organisations. They are self-governed, with their own board of trustees. They are expected to be able to meet, and continue to meet, the criteria for membership. The member boards of trustees work within the framework of our global strategy, vision, mission, values and identity to govern their respective organisations, to approve and monitor their strategic direction, plans and budgets. The member boards of trustees appoint the Chief Executive or equivalent for their organisations, and will monitor their performance.

WaterAid international (WAi) was created in 2010 to support the development of our global organisation and to facilitate global decision making, global standards and co-ordination of global activities. It owns the name and logo and is responsible for establishing WaterAid member organisations in new countries. It comprises the international board and a small secretariat, all based in London. WaterAid international is a company limited by guarantee in the UK, company number 07238796, and a charity registered in England and Wales, number 1137900.

WaterAid employs over 1,000 staff based globally. 


How do we ensure we prevent slavery and human trafficking?

At WaterAid we incorporate a fair and ethical approach through all stages of our work and with our implementing partners and the wider communities that we work with. Examples of how we strive to prevent modern slavery can be seen within our internal policies such as the Code of Conduct, Diversity Policy, Equity and Inclusion Policy and Ethical Standards Policy.

We follow a robust ethical checking policy when evaluating a future working relationship. We also ensure that all our partners are aware of our policies on fraud, bribery and child protection and these policies form part of our ‘Agreements’ with our implementing partners.

Alongside this we also ensure that our recruitment processes are conducted in a manner to prevent slavery, trafficking or bias. 


Ethical check process

WaterAid follows an ethical checking process for donors, as well as suppliers and our implementing partners. It assesses reputational risks and considers factors such as compliance with national laws, subsidiary links and supply chains, and other ethical issues that may be in conflict with WaterAid’s stated aims and objectives. WaterAid welcomes the opportunity to work with partners whose work may not have included water and sanitation in the past, using each opportunity to spread awareness of the importance of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) globally. For partnerships with organisations who have potentially conflicting aims and ideals or other serious ethical concerns, the Chief Executive and/or board will make the final decision, based on an array of evidence. 

We take our ethical policies and standards extremely seriously and any breach can lead to disciplinary action, cessation of contract and potential law enforcement action. 

We work with a number of major suppliers, ranging from those providing building services and water bore-hole construction to fundraising organisations and commercial participators. Our programme work on the ground is done through local partner organisations, to ensure that we invest and empower the local communities as much as possible. We conduct due diligence on potential new partners and this includes an ethical check. We will always ensure that we follow the local legal system and promote ethical practices throughout our work both in the UK and internationally.


Moving forward

  • We are committed to promoting good practice and eliminating poverty and inequality around the world. We do not condone or support modern slavery in our own practices and relationships. In addition, we are committed to promoting the elimination of slavery and human trafficking in its wider engagement with communities, external organisations and beneficiaries. We will continue to invest in policies, training and procedures that will promote knowledge as to the dangers of human trafficking and ensure the ability to identify, prevent and eliminate slavery around the globe.
  • We are currently working on an enhanced due diligence programme for our suppliers. This will ensure greater oversight of suppliers and increased ongoing supervision. 
  • We will continue to invest in our reporting systems for fraud, bribery and anti-slavery. Our whistle-blowing systems will also enable staff or partners to report suspicions anonymously. 
  • We will continue to promote staff and partner training in anti-slavery, trafficking, child protection, safeguarding, fraud and bribery. 
  • We will continue a dialogue on the importance of eliminating slavery and trafficking globally and highlighting the damage it can do to communities and individuals.