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.
Tearfund’s water supply programming covers the choice of water source, water source development, abstraction (taking water from the source), transport (or conveyance), water treatment and water quality testing.
Water safety plans are a commonly used management system that rely on active community participation and leadership.
Demand-led approaches to sanitation
Demand can vary for water, sanitation and hygiene. Usually the demand for safe and accessible water already exists, but the demand for sanitation and hygiene facilities may need to be stimulated. Today, 2.3 billion people still live without access to safe sanitation services. 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 demand-led approaches. Using methods that encourage participation, individuals and their communities work together to analyse their own situation. This can create a ‘light-bulb’ moment, where the need for change is realised. Evidence suggests that when there is a high level of ownership and involvement, supported by capacity building, long-term change is more likely.
Demand-led approaches also help to broaden out the choice of technologies that are available to communities. Using their local knowledge and skills, they can identify the best low-cost and sustainable options.
Tearfund employs a combination of demand-led and supply-driven approaches to WASH at different stages of response, when evidence and context suggest they are the most appropriate. Although demand-led approaches are preferred, emergency response often requires the construction of communal latrines and the distribution of temporary water supply to collection points to meet the needs and rights of communities affected by disaster.
Community-led total sanitation (CLTS)
Community-led total sanitation is an innovative methodology that gets communities working together to eliminate open defecation. Facilitation provides communities with the opportunity to conduct their own investigation and analysis of open defecation and discuss the impacts. Communities are then encouraged to find their own solutions and to organise themselves to become open defecation free.
This reflective learning process, coupled with an understanding of what triggers can change people's behaviour, is essential to initiating a process of sustained behaviour change.
Explore Tearfund’s resources on sanitation
Sanitation marketing uses social and commercial marketing to scale up the demand and supply for improved sanitation and water supply, particularly among those living in poverty.
It assumes that many people, including those living in poverty, are willing to pay for water and sanitation facilities that will meet their needs, if the technology is packaged and marketed appropriately, and the supply mechanism is easily accessible. The approach links very well with demand-led, livelihood approaches such as CLTS.
Together, water, sanitation and good hygiene practices play an important role in preventing disease. However, providing clean water and decent toilets does not necessarily mean good hygiene practice follows. That is why we focus on changing hygiene behaviours. The simple act of washing hands with soap at critical times can reduce the number of diarrhoea cases by over 40 per cent.
Poor hygiene has an impact on health and dignity, resulting in lower school attendance and a loss of income. There are many different types of diseases linked to poor hygiene that affect people’s health and contribute to malnutrition. Globally, diarrhoea-type diseases are the second most common cause of death of children under the age of five.
The importance of handwashing with soap
Handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective and successful ways of combating infectious diseases. But simply providing soap and water is not enough. That is why behaviour change around handwashing with soap at critical times is one of the key focuses of our hygiene promotion programmes.