When a community gets clean water for the first time, it creates a powerful ripple effect, saving lives and improving people’s health, education and livelihoods. Water is just the beginning.

Like magic: Technology transforms

Image: WaterAid/ DRIK/ Habibul Haque

From a contaminated pond to a clean reservoir

Arsenic and excessive salt from rising sea levels poisoned Julia’s young family with every sip of water they took.

The pond near the rural village where Julia, her husband and their two children live in Bangladesh is their primary source of water. But it was contaminated by the poisonous carcinogen arsenic and so high in salinity, the entire family was at high risk of hypertension and high blood pressure.

But Julia only had two choices: Either collect the pond water she knew was making her family sick or travel miles from her village to pump drinking water from a distant well, which caused incredible hardship.

If she chose to go to the well, Julia had to carry heavy jars that were difficult to lift and caused her long-term physical pain. She also had to walk miles to and from the well, which could take all day, instead of caring for her two young children Priota (pictured above) and Tuli. Every time she left her children behind, her heart broke. As she carried the empty jars she would fill to quench her family’s thirst, she wished that finding clean water wasn’t so hard.

Every family in their village was suffering.

Then, their lives changed forever because of support from WaterAid donors who believe that everyone -- no matter where they live -- should be able to access clean drinking water.

WaterAid has a technical team of engineers who specialize in solving problems like Julia’s. As part of a large-scale initiative to ensure no one goes without clean water, we are working in three of the most water insecure districts in Bangladesh to pilot appropriate technology to meet the specific needs of each community.

In Julia’s village, we are using a simple, yet powerful technology called a Pond Sand Filter.

The Pond Sand Filter pumps water from the pond and passes it through a number of chambers containing sand and gravel, which treats the raw water and removes contaminants. The water supplied through a Pond Sand Filter is free of arsenic and salt and suitable for consumption.

This simple change has radically transformed the lives of everyone in Julia’s village. Instead of fearing sickness with every sip, they are confident their water is safe and clean. Instead of spending hours collecting water, they can care for their families and improve their livelihoods.

This project is just one example of how donations from WaterAid supporters are being turned into technology that is making transformational change -- getting clean water to a thirsty world.

How you power technology

Technology, when well-designed, managed and financed, provides reliable access to clean water for water insecure communities, especially those most at risk due to the climate crisis. We hope you enjoy exploring three examples of how your donations are being turned into technology, and changing lives forever.

Solar pumps tap the sun

Tototo Ali Rassul, 28, happy to see advanced work on the solar powered water scheme being constructed it Nacoto, Mossurl District, Nampula Province, Mozambique, October 2018.
Image: WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

How it works

Tototo lives in Mozambique where sunlight is plentiful, but water scarce. Since childhood, she has traveled an hour every day, crossing a dangerous railway line to collect clean water for her family. With the new solar pump WaterAid donors have helped install, it will take her two minutes to get clean water.

How It Works

Using panels that transform sunlight into electricity, your support is helping WaterAid harness this natural and renewable energy to power electrical pumps to extract water from deep in the ground. Solar pumps have low running costs and are great for the environment.

Solar panel - technical diagram of use in a water project | WaterAid

Watch this 60-second video to see how you are helping us tap the sun.

Gravity Powers Water Systems

Ambohidronono's mayor standing beside one of the newly built water points in Ambodiranonambilona village, Ambohidronono commune, Moramanga district, Alaotra Mangoro region, Madagascar, October 2019.
Image: WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

Villagers in Madagascar used to drink from a contaminated stream also used for laundry, bathing and as a watering trough for animals. Then, WaterAid donors helped build a gravity-fed water system to supply fresh clean drinking water. Here, the mayor of the village drinks from a newly built water point fed by a gravity-powered system. 

How It Works

Gravity-fed technology is often used in hilly, rural areas. We tap water from a high point, often from a spring or unpolluted stream. We build a reservoir tank to store the water. Then, we install pipes to carry the water downhill to the community. Using the natural force of gravity removes the need for expensive electrical pumps, making this a cost-effective innovation. 

Water Kiosks

Patricia Nkhoma, 18, water seller, standing infront of the Mbira water kiosk, Kasungu, Malawi, March 2020.
Image: WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

Patricia lives in Malawi and tells the WaterAid team, “Ever since I moved to this village when I was five years old, we never had access to clean water. Every day was a struggle. When it rained, we used to collect the rainwater, but it was always contaminated. When WaterAid constructed a water kiosk, I was intrigued to be part of the change and I applied to manage it. 500 people get water here.” WaterAid/Dennis Lupenga

How It Works

Water kiosks are often installed in the heart of the community, run by attendants to provide a convenient and accessible source of clean water. The kiosks sometimes also sell items such as soap and detergent.


Technology: Only as strong as the weakest link

Accurate information on the location and condition of waterpoints -- no matter what technology we use --  is vital to ensure people have lasting and sustainable access to safe water.

With support from WaterAid donors, we have pioneered innovative waterpoint mapping technology using simple handheld GPS devices or smartphones and online maps. This makes it easy to record data on waterpoints and share it with others.

Samuel Ruzindana who coordinates water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Rwanda says, “The maps we generate help planners and decision-makers know exactly where to install new waterpoints or rehabilitate existing ones. They also help with the day-to-day monitoring of waterpoints and improve sustainability.

Carolina carries water from the windmill-powered well

Image: WaterAid/ Keoma Zec

From the cracked, arid land in Bangladesh, to the erratic dry and rainy seasons in Colombia, the climate crisis is having a devastating impact around the world right now.

By introducing sustainable water systems and innovative technology, together we are bringing strength to the families and communities most at risk. We hope you take heart in the extraordinary work you have seen in this issue of the Ripple Effect. And we hope you are inspired to help continue to innovate with technology to mitigate devastating water insecurity.

In the face of more and more extreme weather events, it’s clear that it’s now more important than ever for everyone, everywhere to have clean water.

Because water is life. And that’s something that will never change.

The future of water needs you

WaterAid is excited to launch our Legacy Society to keep the water flowing for generations to come. When Sally Timpson was planning her will, she wanted her legacy to reflect her life’s work supporting impoverished communities' efforts to improve the quality of their lives. "Knowing the critical role clean water plays for all of us, I feel a great sense of comfort knowing my gift will continue support to programs that make such an important difference to the well-being of others." As a long-time supporter of WaterAid, Sally’s gift intention has given her the peace of mind that her legacy will enhance her lifetime impact on the future of water.

We would love to help you get the same peace of mind that Sally now has. For information about how to include WaterAid in your will, or to discuss other planned giving opportunities, please contact Margaret Cohen or via phone at 202-427-3808.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About WaterAid

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere within a generation. We work in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people.

Image: WaterAid/Prashanth Vishwanathan

We have reached26.4 million
people with clean water

26.3 millionpeople reached with decent toilets