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What is Tearfund doing about water, sanitation and hygiene?

Breaking free from poverty is impossible without sustainable access to clean water, secure sanitation services and improved hygiene practices. We always coordinate our work on these three complementary areas to ensure that we can effectively improve community health and wellbeing for the long term.

Working with communities

We are committed to working in full participation with communities, empowering them to own and manage sustainable and safe water and sanitation services. We ensure that our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects are sustained at local level through trained and well-supported WASH management groups, with ongoing technical and managerial support provided by local WASH business and service providers.

Working with local governments

Tearfund works with local governments through influencing, advocating and supporting local policy development for better access to water and sanitation services. We recognise national governments as the ultimate service providers of WASH, and help communities and service providers to hold them accountable for the provision of adequate and inclusive WASH services.

Our impact

Ensuring access to clean water

Currently, around 2 billion people worldwide are without access to safely managed drinking water, and 3.6 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation. This exposes them to the risk of diarrhoea and other diseases, and the contamination of water supplies. Over 297,000 children under the age of five die each year through diarrhoeal diseases alone.

Access to water is not just about survival. People use water for all sorts of everyday tasks like bathing, cleaning, farming and cooking. 

Tearfund’s water supply programmes cover the choice of water source, water source development, abstraction (taking water from the source), transporting the water to the community, water treatment (where necessary), and water quality testing.

Safe sanitation

The safety, privacy, comfort and dignity of an accessible toilet should be an everyday reality for all. 

Getting the local community actively involved is a key part of our demand-led approach. We help individuals and their communities work together to analyse their situation and identify which sanitation facilities they want or need. Using their local knowledge and skills, communities can identify the best low-cost and sustainable options.

Promoting good hygiene 

Clean water, sanitation and good hygiene practices all play an important role in preventing disease. However, providing clean water and decent toilets does not necessarily mean good hygiene practice follows. Neither does simply improving knowledge on benefits of safe hygiene. That’s why we also focus on changing hygiene behaviours, identifying the barriers and the features which motivate and enable community members to adopt safe hygiene practices (such as habitually washing hands with soap, which can reduce the number of diarrhoea cases by over 40 per cent).

Case study

Our water and sanitation work: in-depth

You can find out more about why and how we focus on each of these key areas on our partner website, Tearfund Learn. Tearfund Learn provides free access to our research and resources from over 50 years of experience in international development.

Read more on Tearfund Learn

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