Modern Slavery statements

See our Modern slavery statements from previous years.

Modern Slavery statement 2020

We recognise the impact that modern slavery can have on people’s lives. In 2016, the International Labour Organisation stated an estimated 40 million people were trapped in modern slavery. We are committed to identifying and eliminating any modern slavery in our own supply chain and in organisations that we work with around the globe. We would not work with any organisation that our ethical checks had caused us to suspect of involvement in modern slavery.

This statement made in relation to the Modern Slavery Act relates to the financial year 2019-20, ending 31 March 2020. It demonstrates our commitment to the Act and to promote transparency across all areas of our work. It is authorised by the trustees and signed by the Chair of our Trustees, Tim Clark, on 9 September 2020. It outlines the work we have done and will do to identify and prevent modern slavery in our global operations.

Our organisation’s mission and structure

At WaterAid, everything we do is guided by our values:

Respect We treat everyone with dignity and respect and champion the rights and contribution of all to achieve a fairer world.

Accountability We are accountable to those whose lives we hope to see transformed, to those we work with and to those who support us.

Courage We are bold and inspiring in our actions and words, and uncompromising in our determination to pursue our mission.

Collaboration We work with others to maximise our impact, respecting diversity and difference in the pursuit of common goals.

Innovation We are creative and agile, always learning, and prepared to take risks to accelerate change.

Integrity We act with honesty and conviction and our actions are consistent with openness, equality and human rights.

WaterAid UK is an international non-government organisation, part of a global federation of member organisations working in 34 countries worldwide. This statement covers the activities of WaterAid UK and WaterAid Trading Ltd, our trading company which is wholly owned by WaterAid UK.

WaterAid UK employs over 800 staff globally, 336 of which are based in the UK.

Our work in relation to the Modern Slavery Act

This section outlines our work in relation to the Modern Slavery Act in respect of our policies and staff and partners, and our operations and supply chains. These demonstrate our commitment to this issue and helps ensure that appropriate and coordinated action is taken throughout the organisation.

Policies

We have in place the following policies and procedures which combined, seek to reduce the risk of modern slavery in our work:

  • Environmental Statement and Policy and Environmental Group which promotes ethical and sustainable business practices
  • UK and Global Accounts Manuals including procurement requirements
  • Recruitment policy and process and hiring manager guides
  • Grievance Policy 
  • Access for staff to free Confidential Counselling and Advice Helpline
  • Federation Standards including safeguarding, ethical standards, finance and risk.

Global code of conduct

All existing and new staff are required to read and sign our Global Code of Conduct. This outlines WaterAid’s expectations of staff as well as what they can expect from WaterAid. In signing the Code of Conduct, staff are committing to:

  • uphold WaterAid’s values
  • treat everyone with respect and dignity
  • not to abuse the privileged position of a role in WaterAid
  • respect people’s human rights
  • prevent and report any criminal or unethical activities that may impact WaterAid’s work
  • ensure their actions do not create an unacceptable risk to anyone’s health, welfare, safety or security
  • report any concerns regarding safety and security.

There is also a procedure for reporting malpractice and breaches to the Global Code of Conduct in place. Our organisational policies and the Global Code of Conduct also apply to our volunteers, whose generous support we rely on to achieve our objectives.

Suppliers

For WaterAid to successfully achieve its objectives, it requires the support of third parties, including fundraising organisations and commercial participators. They provide capacity, expertise and added value to enable us to undertake all our operations. WaterAid has due diligence procedures in place and requirements include: assessing financial stability, reviewing policies including modern slavery and having a written, signed contract in place which meet regulatory and statutory requirements.

Partners

Our programme work in our country programmes is mainly done through local partner organisations, to ensure that we invest in and empower local communities. We will always ensure that we follow the local legal system and promote ethical practices throughout our work both in the UK and internationally.

We conduct due diligence on all potential new partners. We also set financial control and other standards for our implementing partners, and this includes minimum requirements in respect of procurement and contracting. 

Ethical check process

WaterAid follows an ethical check process for our donors, suppliers and implementing partners. It assesses reputational risks and considers factors such as compliance with national laws, extent of subsidiary links and supply chains, any regulatory investigations (eg linked to labour standards or environmental standards), links to fraud or bribery and other ethical issues that may be in conflict with WaterAid’s stated values, aims and objectives. We will not enter into a relationship with another organisation if we are not satisfied that they meet our ethical standards.

Risk

International development, by its very nature, carries a degree of inherent risk.  For WaterAid to achieve our mission of transforming lives by improving access to safe water and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities it is necessary for us to take managed risks and to capitalise on opportunities.  

WaterAid is risk averse when it comes to the protection of our reputation and the safety of our people and will take managed risks in respect of investing in our work and in developing the organisation to have greater impact.   

The identification and management of strategic risks would include modern slavery where appropriate. Strategic risks are discussed at meetings of the Board and the Audit Committee.

Quality standards

WaterAid have introduced Quality Programme Standards to ensure we maintain high quality and ethical methods in our programme work, and to inspire and motivate others to adopt good standards in WASH. These standards are used at every stage of the planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting cycle of our projects and programmes.

Training

WaterAid conducts training to raise awareness and ensure staff understand the importance of issues deemed to be of high risk. It also helps staff to understand what they need to do and how to work together internally or externally if they encounter something that raises concerns. The following training courses are mandatory for existing and new staff which combined, seek to reduce the risk of modern slavery in our work:

  • Safeguarding
  • Security
  • Data Protection
  • Cyber Security

Training on fraud, equity, discrimination and inclusion, partnerships, and recruitment is available to all staff. Volunteers are also included in any mandatory or other applicable training. Each of our country programmes has a safeguarding focal person, who ensures that all WaterAid staff have completed mandatory training and who also conducts a programme of training for our partner staff. Our Global Safeguarding Manager provides guidance and support to the safeguarding focal points.

Since our last Modern Slavery Statement for the year 2018-19

  • We partnered with Protect who provide an independent third-party external reporting line which can be accessed by staff, partners, volunteers and the public.
  • 2019 saw WaterAid implement safeguarding audit checks in Country Programmes to monitor safeguarding policies and procedures and to highlight any challenges.
  • We recruited a Compliance Officer, increasing our capacity to ensure our third-party due diligence is robust. This role has also focused on operationalising a Compliance Manual, a point of reference to support fundraisers carrying out effective due diligence on partners and other legal, regulatory and best practice requirements.
  • We introduced a new fundraiser induction process, which covers supply chain due diligence and emphasizes that we are equally responsible for any actions by our fundraising partners, so our monitoring of them must be comprehensive and robust.
  • We have initiated a contract register to ensure that all contracts are recorded centrally and are of an appropriate standard to help ensure that we meet regulatory and statutory requirements. Our In House Lawyer provides contracts training to ensure every third party we work with agree to meet our requirements eg has a modern slavery statement if required
  • Our internal audit team undertook a review of our supplier due diligence process. The audit made recommendations for improvements to our supply chain due diligence process.  
  • In January 2020, we updated our Risk Policy to reflect our updated risk management framework. This helped increase overall awareness of risk throughout WaterAid and to support those responsible for managing risk to better identify, assess, report and control risks.
  • We have rolled out detailed Procurement Guidance for our country programmes, designed to increase transparency and ethical practices and reduce the risk of loss, poor value for money and inappropriate procurement practices.
  • Mandatory Operating Procedures have been defined, which highlight the most important WaterAid procedures that must be maintained, even during times of crisis, over and above all others. They ensure we can continue working to achieve our mission, whilst upholding our most basic legal, moral and contractual duty of care to all our stakeholders.

Moving forward

  • We are expanding our global safeguarding function to include a Global Safeguarding Officer, this will help in building capacity across the federation and provide support to the Global Safeguarding Manager.
  • 2020 will see us embark on our first two-year federation wide safeguarding strategy to ensure all areas of safeguarding are fully embedded in everything that we do.
  • We have identified improvements that can be made to our supply chain due diligence mechanisms. This will include the completion of due diligence checklists, which includes the requirement to publish a Modern Slavery Statements, and more regular and documented supplier visits.  
  • We had commenced the process of recruiting for an Ethical Check Process Manager to bring our third-party ethical checks in house and enables us to review the process, improve it and ensure all third parties meet our requirements in terms of the ethics of working with them. (Recruitment is currently on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Included in our Internal Audit plan in 2020-21 is a review of our ethical process, including the policy and process and sample of previous ethical checks made.
  • We plan to further assess the nature and extent of our exposure to the risk of modern slavery, using relevant information from internal and external sources. This will enable us to take more targeted action to identify, remedy and prevent modern slavery occurring in the future.

Modern Slavery statement 2019-20

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. 

We recognise the impact that modern slavery can have on people’s lives. In 2016, an estimated 40 million people were trapped in modern slavery, including 24.9 million people in forced labour, 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation and 15.4 million people in forced marriage. 70% of these were women and girls. This equates to 5.4 people trapped in modern slavery for every 1000 people in the world.  

We are committed to identifying and eliminating any modern slavery in our own supply chain and in organisations that we work with around the globe, and we would not work with any organisation that we suspected of involvement in modern slavery. In 2018, we hired a Global Safeguarding Manager to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and the communities we work with. In 2019-20 we will be delivering more Modern Slavery training and further expanding our supplier due diligence and ethical checking process.

This statement is made in relation to the Modern Slavery Act and demonstrates our commitment to the Act and to promote transparency across all areas of our work. It is authorised by the trustees and signed by the Chair of our Trustees, Tim Clark. It outlines the work we have done and will do to identify and prevent modern slavery in our global operations.

Our organisation’s mission and structure

WaterAid is determined to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. Without all three, people can’t live dignified, healthy lives. With all three, they can unlock their potential, break free from poverty and change their lives for good. Everything we do is guided by our values: 

We treat everyone with dignity and respect and champion the rights and contribution of all to achieve a fairer world. 

We are accountable to those whose lives we hope to see transformed, to those we work with and to those who support us.

We are bold and inspiring in our actions and words, and uncompromising in our determination to pursue our mission. 

We work with others to maximise our impact, respecting diversity and difference in the pursuit of common goals. 

We are creative and agile, always learning, and prepared to take risks to accelerate change.

We act with honesty and conviction and our actions are consistent with openness, equality and human rights.

WaterAid UK is part of a global federation of member organisations working in 34 countries worldwide. The members are: 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. This statement covers the activities of WaterAid UK and WaterAid Trading Ltd (our trading company which is wholly owned by WaterAid UK).

WaterAid UK employs over 1,000 staff based globally. 

Our work in relation to the Modern Slavery Act

This section outlines our work in relation to the Modern Slavery Act in respect of our operations, staff, partners, beneficiaries and our supply chains.

Global code of conduct

All existing and new staff are required to read and sign our Global Code of Conduct. This outlines WaterAid’s expectations of staff as well as what they can expect from WaterAid. In signing the Code of Conduct, staff are committing to:

Ethical check process

WaterAid follows an ethical checking process for our donors, suppliers and implementing partners. It assesses reputational risks and considers factors such as compliance with national laws, extent of subsidiary links and supply chains, any regulatory investigations (eg linked to labour standards or environmental standards), links to fraud or bribery and other ethical issues that may be in conflict with WaterAid’s stated values, aims and objectives. We will not enter into a relationship with another organisation if we are not satisfied that they meet our ethical standards. 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.

Partners 

We work with a wide variety of partner organisations, ranging from those providing building services and water bore-hole construction to fundraising organisations and commercial participators. Our programme work in our country programmes is mainly done through local partner organisations, to ensure that we invest in and empower local communities. We will always ensure that we follow the local legal system and promote ethical practices throughout our work both in the UK and internationally.

We conduct due diligence on all potential new partners and this includes an ethical check. We also set financial control and other standards for our implementing partners, and this includes minimum requirements in respect of procurement and contracting.  

Volunteers

As a non-profit organisation, we rely on the generous work that our volunteers do in promoting our work.  We strengthened our volunteer policies and procedures in the last two years to better support our volunteers, and we also include them in any mandatory or other applicable training, such as safeguarding and data protection. Our organisational policies, such as the Code of Conduct, apply to staff and volunteers.

Whilst we recognise the importance of voluntary work, it in no way seeks to replace paid staff with the work of volunteers, and we do not expect volunteers to conduct work that a paid member of staff should be completing. 
 

Modern Slavery statement 2018-19 

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 expanding our global safeguarding function to include a Global Safeguarding Officer, this will help in building capacity across the federation and provide support to the Global Safeguarding Manager.
  • 2020 will see us embark on our first two-year federation wide safeguarding strategy to ensure all areas of safeguarding are fully embedded in everything that we do.
  • We have identified improvements that can be made to our supply chain due diligence mechanisms. This will include the completion of due diligence checklists, which includes the requirement to publish a Modern Slavery Statements, and more regular and documented supplier visits.  
  • We had commenced the process of recruiting for an Ethical Check Process Manager to bring our third-party ethical checks in house and enables us to review the process, improve it and ensure all third parties meet our requirements in terms of the ethics of working with them. (Recruitment is currently on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Included in our Internal Audit plan in 2020-21 is a review of our ethical process, including the policy and process and sample of previous ethical checks made.
  • We plan to further assess the nature and extent of our exposure to the risk of modern slavery, using relevant information from internal and external sources. This will enable us to take more targeted action to identify, remedy and prevent modern slavery occurring in the future.
    • uphold WaterAid’s values

    • promote WaterAid’s work within all aspects of their role

    • treat everyone with respect and dignity

    • not to abuse the privileged position of a role in WaterAid

    • respect people’s human rights

    • prevent and report any criminal or unethical activities that may impact WaterAid’s work

    • ensure their actions do not create an unacceptable risk to anyone’s health, welfare, safety or security

    • report any concerns regarding safety and security.

    • We updated the Reporting Malpractice and Breaches of the Global Code of Conduct Policy.  This outlines all the avenues a staff member, volunteer or partner can take to report suspicions of malpractice or safeguarding concerns. 
    • We introduced a whistleblowing telephone number and email address for those who want to report anonymously. 
    • We appointed Safeguarding Focal Points, based in all Country Programmes who are trained at identifying safeguarding concerns and instances of harm and abuse. They are trained in how to investigate and respond to incidents of this kind. 
    • Any breach of the Global Code of Conduct or other forms of abuse are now registered on a central global register. This helps us ensure that we meet statutory or regulatory reporting requirements. 
    • We updated the ethical checking process that ensures that we do not enter into agreements with, or take donations from, organisations or individuals whose work or actions undermines the achievement of our mission or would damage our reputation or credibility.  Organisations shown to have been involved in criminal or regulatory investigations in the last 10 years would be considered high risk and further extensive checks would always be conducted before entering into any relationship. 
    • We recruited a Contract Lawyer to ensure that all contracts are of an appropriate standard to help ensure that we meet regulatory and statutory requirements (such as modern slavery and data protection). The role also works with other departments to strengthen the procurement process in the UK and specifically to ensure more rigorous due diligence for suppliers. 
    • We recruited a Global Safeguarding Manager who has produced a suite of Global safeguarding policies and procedures as well as embedding safeguarding practices around the organisation, conducting training with staff and partners and investigating incidents. 
    • We recruited a Fundraising Compliance Manager. Part of their role includes developing and rolling out an enhanced due diligence framework focussed on suppliers and third parties working with our Fundraising Teams. One example of this is our telephone fundraising agencies and ensuring that no one is recruited on commission-only paid roles. 
    • We have drafted detailed Procurement Guidance for our country programmes and this is currently being finalised and approved and will be rolled out throughout 2019.
    • We are in the process of recruiting a Senior Audit and Compliance Manager, whose role will include reviewing our operations against the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act. 
    • We identified policies, such as the Global Accounts Manual, where changes can be made to better reflect the Modern Slavery Act requirements. We shall be working on these improvements throughout 2019-20.
    • We have identified improvements that can be made to our supply chain due diligence mechanisms. We will roll out an enhanced supplier due diligence process over the coming year. This will include due diligence questionnaires, compliance monitoring and annual assurance statements. 
    • We will enhance our staff and partner training in anti-slavery, trafficking, child protection, safeguarding, fraud and bribery, and strengthen monitoring to ensure all compulsory training is completed (e.g. child protection training). 
    • 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.