Water for all

Today, over 700 million people still live without access to safe water

Access to water is not just about survival. People use water for all sorts of cultural activities as well as for everyday tasks like bathing, cleaning, farming and cooking. Tearfund works with communities to understand the importance of all these activities in the local setting, meeting both the basic needs as well as the culturally valued uses for water.

Access to safe water

In all of our water supply programming, Tearfund’s goal is to create access that provides enough water for everyone, that is of an acceptable quality and to empower people to manage their water resources. Water services also need to be sustainable and resilient to things like climate change.

Tearfund also recognises its role in addressing other contextual issues alongside WASH programmes, including inclusion, violence against women and gender inequality, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and the fragility of states.These can be explicit objectives or dynamics to be monitored within WASH service delivery.

We include a range of activities in water supply programming: 

  • Choice of water source
  • Water source development
  • Abstraction (taking water from the source)
  • Transport (or conveyance)
  • Water Treatment
  • Water Quality Testing 

Five factors in successful water supply programming


Coordinate your water, sanitation and hygiene programming to reduce sickness and death caused by WASH-related diseases and to help people to develop their livelihoods so they can thrive. Ensure that all WASH proposals assess and address all three, or that other partners are working to achieve these.


Advocate for WASH at the local, national and global levels to positively affect local government priorities for WASH service provision. Support capacity building and collaborate with government and local institutions for long-term sustainability.


In emergency response situations, supply-driven responses for water supply, (e.g. water trucking or providing packaged water treatment plants) are critical to sustaining life. However, whenever possible move to demand-led approaches early in an emergency response to decrease dependency and help the transition from relief to development.

Respond to the local context and base WASH programming on local solutions and innovation. Focus on learning by doing, using facilitation and marketing to create demand. Provide training and capacity building to enable WASH related products to be developed to meet this new demand.

Water Resource Management

Enable and support local ownership for the long-term sustainability of WASH provision. Build the capacity of different stakeholders involved in water resource management to create inclusive community-based management structures and effective partnerships. Identify and understand existing local management structures and the barriers to participation for the most marginalised and vulnerable groups.


Support communities to be actively involved in the project and to have ownership of all stages. Communities have the knowledge and skill to identify local problems and the support they need to address these. Connect WASH programmes with people's lived experiences in ways that inform, question or challenge. Build on what people are already doing, such as their coping strategies, to bring about improvements to their lives that are really valued.

Tearfund focuses on facilitating community mobilisation and partnerships, mediating learning around water management practices, sanitation and hygiene, in addition to training and capacity building.

Water safety plans

Water Safety Plans are a commonly used management system that rely on active community participation and leadership: 
Water Safety Plan for Communities (PDF 617 KB)
Water Safety Plan for Communities (French version) (PDF 678 KB)

Footsteps Issues on Water 

Footsteps is an online and print magazine for grassroots health and development workers.
Footsteps Edition 1 - Water 
Footsteps Edition 30 - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 
Footsteps Edition 51 - Water