Founded 1981
Type Non-governmental organization
Focus Water, Sanitation
Area served
Key people
Barbara Frost, Chief Executive
Website www.wateraid.org
Charity Commission. WaterAid, registered charity no. 288701. 

WaterAid is an international non-profit organization that was set up in 1981 as a response to the UN International Drinking Water & Sanitation decade (1981–1990).

The organization was first established by the UK water industry on 21 July 1981 as a charitable trust at their main office premises in London. As of 2013, WaterAid had fundraising offices located in Australia, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States while working in 27 countries worldwide. Activities involve providing people with clean water, safe toilets and hygiene education. By 1987 its income exceeded £1 million per annum, and its 2005-2006 accounts recorded an income of £26.9 million. In 2011-12, it raised £55.8m in the UK, and spent £54m.[1]


WaterAid works in partnership with local organisations in 37 countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region[2] to help poor communities establish sustainable water supplies and latrines, close to home, and to promote safe hygiene practices. It also works to influence government water and sanitation policies to serve the interests of vulnerable people and to ensure water and sanitation are prioritised in poverty reduction plans. As a matter of policy, WaterAid supports public ownership and control of water supplies, but does not take a particular view regarding public, community or private participation in service provision.

In 1991 HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, became the charity's first president and was taken to see WaterAid projects in Nepal. He continues in this role. In 1993 WaterAid began work on their 1000th project, and also agreed to fund the Hitosa Gravity Scheme in Ethiopia. The Hitosa scheme was the largest single water supply scheme implemented in Ethiopia at the time, reaching 50,000 people.[3]

In 2003, WaterAid was named UK charity of the year at the Charity Times Awards.[4] Also, in November 2006 WaterAid was named "Britain's most Admired Charity 2006",[5] as voted by its peers in the voluntary sector (in Third Sector magazine). WaterAid came top of the category followed by Save the Children and The Samaritans. Andrew Cook, then WaterAid's Director of Communications and Fundraising said "We are delighted to have won this prestigious accolade. This award is testament to the tireless work of all WaterAid's staff and volunteers both in the UK and internationally". WaterAid is also a Stockholm Water Prize laureate.

In 2004, WaterAid opened new offices in the US: WaterAid America[6] and Australia: WaterAid Australia,[7] and in 2009 WaterAid Sweden[8] was established. In the same year, a new Global Strategy was launched, with the target of reaching 25 million more people across 30 countries by 2015.[9] In 2010, WaterAid international (WAi) was officially formed; an integral part of becoming a global organisation and achieving WaterAid's global strategy. By 2011, WaterAid's 30th anniversary year, they had reached almost 16 million people with safe water and over 11 million with sanitation.[3]

WaterAid has been associated with the Glastonbury Festival since 1994. In 2006 the festival's founder Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily visited WaterAid's work in Mozambique and by 2007 130 WaterAid volunteers helped at the festival. In 2011, there were around 200 WaterAid volunteers present.. In 2016, by which time there were over 500 Wateraid volunteers at Glastonbury, the charity introduced Talking Toilets which gave out information voiced by celebrities such as Cerys Matthews and Brian Blessed.[10]

Its twice-yearly magazine is called 'Oasis' and includes news and features on planned and completed projects. WaterAid is a founding member of the End Water Poverty campaign calling for water and sanitation for all.

Among WaterAid's many fundraising events is 'Coast Along for WaterAid',[11] a sponsored walk along sections of the South West Coast Path, which took place annually between 2005 and 2012. In 2010 the then UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown took part.[12][13]

In 2012, WaterAid partnered with Waterlogic to help raise funds for the poorest communities in the world, to provide them with clean and sanitary water.[14] Waterlogic's Firewall technology purifies water and destroys harmful bacteria.[15] Waterlogic pledged $225,000 USD to WaterAid over 3 years.[16]

Fundraising events and initiatives in 2013 included The WaterAid200 Mountain Challenge[17] as well as various running, cycling and other sporting challenges [18] as well as Street fundraising.

WaterAid in Zambia

WaterAid first started work in Zambia during the 1992-1994 drought.[19] Since then, the organization has expanded its operations to seven districts in the country, five of which are in the Southern Province (Monze, Siavonga, Namwala, Itezhitezhi and Kazungula) while the other two are Kafue in Lusaka Province and Kaoma in Western Province.[20] The organization spends about ZMK8-9 billion (just over £1 million) annually on projects there,[21] and have since provided 42,600 people in Zambia with access to clean, safe water.[22]

Efforts in Monze District

WaterAid is working with the government to help extend access to safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene for rural communities in Monze District. Sichiyanda is one such village in the Monze district where efforts are in progress. Projects in the village began in 2001 and the community worked together to dig a well with dedicated bucket and windlass.[23] Hygiene education is also taking place, where villagers are taught to keep areas clean by building dish racks and rubbish pits and ensuring that there are no stagnant pools of water where mosquitoes can breed.[23] In addition, 28 latrines have already been constructed with more underway.[23]

Such programmes have led to significant improvements in the lives of villages in rural Monze. The building of wells have led to time savings for women and children.[24] For women, much of this newly available time has been put to productive economic activities like basket weaving and pottery making for use and sale.[24] For children, it has led to increased attendance in schools.[24] In light of this, WaterAid has since put up a tender request for an additional 32 boreholes (necessary for the construction of wells) to be drilled in Monze.[25]

Milenge Self Supply Project

While most of WaterAid’s projects have been subsidized, the Milenge Project stands out for being one that is self-supplied.[21] It has been possible to stimulate real demand in the district, and this means rural water supply upgrading can take place with no subsidy for materials. Wateraid is now working in four wards of Western Milenge on Self Supply,[26] and 16 masons (4 per ward) have already been trained, having attended two separate one-month courses at Mansa Trades Training Insititute.[27] Besides being trained technically, these masons are also trained to work together and on how to promote their services.[27] They speak to households independently, and some 95 well owners have since expressed interest in their services.[26] Moreover, considering the fact that these areas are some of the poorest in Zambia and that the rural population is on average poorer than those in other piloting countries, such a response is truly impressive.[27]

WaterAid India

WaterAid works closely with its partners in local communities to utilise low cost technologies to deliver sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene solutions to the poor in the economically less developed countries.[28] WaterAid's vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.[29]

Since its presence in India from 1986, WaterAid India has been growing in its significance in providing assistance to the poor in both rural and urban areas.[30] Today, WaterAid covers over ten states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh), rendering their services to the communities that needed help most.[31]

Role in India

The main thrust of WaterAid India’s projects is to advocate the use of latrines and to provide hygiene education with training manuals to the poorer and less educated areas.[32] It aims to bring across the detrimental effects of poor hygiene; such as diseases, loss of efficiency and high expenses in the form of costly medicine.[32] WaterAid India hopes to inspire local communities to develop their own cost effective solutions to the existing problems.[32]

In addition, WaterAid India, with other partner organisations, came together to tackle the issue of having access to potable water in the coastal states of India.[33] The roots of this crisis are linked to development. Sustainable development has proved challenging for many of India’s coastal states, as they struggle to balance their delicate ecology against heavy economic demands and the desire for growth.[33] WaterAid India and its partners explored the feasibility of technological alternatives to the problem of salinity in the groundwater - for example, rainwater harvesting, desalination and dew harvesting - and looked towards establishing an area-specific strategy for ensuring access to a domestic water supply in coastal regions.[33]

Achievements and Prospects

WaterAid has achieved many other significant milestones since its inception. The WaterAid project in Kalmandhai, Tiruchirapalli city was declared the country's first 100% sanitised slum in 2002.[34] Khajapattai was recently announced as the seventh.[34] In 2009/10, nearly 240,000 people managed to have access to safe water and sanitation, through WaterAid supported projects.[34]

WaterAid India also plays a vital role in advising Indian policy makers to include low-cost latrines into existing sanitation subsidies in 1999, after two years of advocacy.[34] This exemplifies WaterAid India’s persuasive powers and intent of alleviating poverty in India. Since 2003, WaterAid India has shifted its focus to the poorer states in northern India where local communities there require great assistance.[35] In order to better meet the need of these communities, WaterAid India has shifted its head office to New Delhi.[35]

WaterAid Bangladesh

WaterAid started its work in Bangladesh in 1986. It has successfully collaborated with 21 organizations in Bangladesh up to now to alleviate the sufferings from scarce water supply and low sanitation standards in poverty-plagued villages.[36]

With WaterAid Bangladesh rendering their help in the technical field, The Village Education Resource Centre (VERC) introduced the community-led total sanitation (CLTS) model. It aims to educate villagers on the harmful effects that open defecation brings to the environment and to their health. In addition, the CLTS programme help to build toilets for the local communities so as to facilitate them in shifting to a more hygienic lifestyle. UNICEF recognized that the programme had been so impactful in Bangladesh that many organizations and countries had replicated it.[37]

In 2011, the additional number of people who could access to water and sanitation thanks to WaterAid’s programme is 259,000 and 536,000 respectively. WaterAid is currently working with Bangladesh government to build the National Sanitation Strategy, which would help them to reach universal access to sanitation by 2015. Recognizing WaterAid’s efforts and the change that they made in running the National Sanitation Campaign together with other NGOs, Bangladesh government presented the National Sanitation Award to WaterAid as a gesture of appreciation.[38]

Latrine design and construction

WaterAid encouraged local villagers to design and construct better latrine for themselves.[39] This allowed people to be more involved and learn more about sanitation in the process. Also, they could personalize it to fit their preferences and needs.

WaterAid also introduced a programme called "Naming and Shaming", in which anyone caught defecating in the open would have their names taken down and made known to the whole community.[40] Explaining why this works, Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex) stated that it triggered people's pride and feelings so strongly that they were highly motivated to change, i.e. building their own toilets and stop open defecation.[41]

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (Switzerland) stated that 49 out of 80 unions had attained 100% sanitation coverage.[42]

Hygiene education

WaterAid brought across the message of sanitation and hygienic defecation to the young by collaborating with a local music-theater performance troupe who performed various educational for children.[43]

However, WaterAid does face some difficulties: almost unable to seek support and donations from companies in Bangladesh to ensure a high hygienic level. Mr. Mohammed Sabur, the Director of WaterAid Bangladesh said that since labour was abundant, companies were not afraid of labour shortage should their employees fall sick. Companies would only likely to support the programme were those with benefits in mind such as Unilever, who wanted to sell more soap.[44]


  1. "Annual report and financial statement 2011-2012". wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  2. "WaterAid - Where we work". wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Who we are - Our history". wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  4. "Wateraid named as Charity of the Year for 2003". charitytimes.com. 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  5. "Britain's most Admired Charity 2006". wateraid.org. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011.
  6. "WaterAid - Clean water & sanitation for Africa, Asia & Central America". wateraidamerica.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. "WaterAid Australia". wateraidaustralia.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. "WaterAid Sverige". wateraid.se. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  9. http://www.wateraid.org/uk/who-we-are/our-strategy
  10. "Glastonbury 2016: Brian Blessed to voice WaterAid's 'Talking Toilets'". The Independent. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  11. "Coast Along for WaterAid".
  12. "Gordon Brown to walk for water charity". bbc.co.uk. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  13. "Former PM walks Fife Coast Path for charity". news.stv.tv. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  14. "March 22 is World Water Day". waterlogic.us. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  15. "Waterlogic Firewall Technology". waterlogic.com. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  16. "WaterAid America - Waterlogic announces new charity partnership with WaterAid". wateraidamerica.org. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  17. "WaterAid200 - a mountain walking challenge event from WaterAid". wateraid200.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  18. "WaterAid UK - Get involved - Find an event to join". wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  19. "WaterAid - Where we work - Zambia". wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  20. "WaterAid America - Zambia information sheet" (PDF). wateraidamerica.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  21. 1 2 "Zambia Country Programme Evaluation Summary" (PDF). wateraid.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  22. "Changing Lives Challenge". United Utilities. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  23. 1 2 3 "WaterAid USA - WASHE project brings change". wateraidamerica.org. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  24. 1 2 3 Kelleher, John; Chilwana, Elias (2001). "Community Perceived Impacts of Watsan Interventions" (PDF). 27th WEDC Conference. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  25. "Tender to drill 61 boreholes in Lapula and southern provinces". mpoto.info. 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  26. 1 2 Sutton, Sally (2009). "Preliminary Report on Self Supply, Luapula Province, Zambia" (PDF). rural-water-supply.net. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  27. 1 2 3 Sutton, Sally (2010). "Accelerating Self Supply – A Case Study from Zambia" (PDF). rural-water-supply.net. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
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  31. "WaterAid India Site". About us: WaterAid in India. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  32. 1 2 3 "WaterAid India Site". What we do: How we work. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  33. 1 2 3 "Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink". WaterAid UK Site.
  34. 1 2 3 4 "India: What has WaterAid achieved?". WaterAid UK Site. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  35. 1 2 "WaterAid India Site". WaterAid in India. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  36. "WaterAid Bangladesh". WaterAid. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  37. "Case Study: Community-Led Total Sanitation in Nigeria" (PDF). UNICEF. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  38. "What has WaterAid achieved?". WaterAid. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  39. Fawzi and Jones. "Water+Aid=report 2010" (PDF). WaterAid.
  40. Black and Fawcett (2008). The last taboo: opening the door on the global sanitation crisis. United Kingdom: Earthscan. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-84407-544-7.
  41. Institute of Development Studies. "An end to open defecation?" (PDF). id21. University of Sussex. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  42. Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council. "Success Stories On Sanitation With Critical Analysis" (PDF). Community-Led Total Sanitation. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  43. Pappas, Stephanie. "With 7 Billion People, World Has a Poop Problem". LiveScience. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  44. Elliot, Larry (25 November 2007). "Where death by water is part of daily life". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
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