Our approach to WASH

Clean water, sanitation and hygiene are basic human rights that enable people to live full and healthy lives. They impact health, nutrition, education, livelihoods, women's opportunities and the environment.

Integrated for impact

Wherever we work, Tearfund takes an integrated approach to water, sanitation and hygiene. This means that by coordinating our work on these three areas, we can have a bigger impact on improving community health and well-being.

How water and sanitation provision and good hygiene practice can prevent disease

Many diarrhoeal diseases are passed on when we accidentally touch human faeces or animal dung. The risk of catching these diseases can be reduced by providing clean water and sanitation and practicing good hygiene. This diagram shows how these diseases spread and the best ways of stopping it, such as hand-washing at critical times, good food hygiene and preventing contact with animal dung.

F diagram

Our aim in supporting WASH 

The aim of Tearfund’s support of WASH programmes is to reduce the incidence and impact of WASH-related diseases amongst the poor communities we work with by helping them to gain sustainable access to safe water supplies, safe and appropriate sanitation, and to realise the benefits of good hygiene practice. 

We are committed to working in full participation with communities, empowering them to own and manage their WASH solutions whenever possible, yet at the same time realising that communities require on-going follow-up support and guidance to maintain the full benefits of project solutions. 

We acknowledge the significant synergy of integrating water, sanitation and hygiene approaches towards the overall impact on health and well-being, and in our support we explicitly consider environmental impact, the differing role and need of genders and vulnerable groups, and solutions which are conflict-sensitive. 

Tearfund continues to work with local communities for the long run, enabling them to achieve sustainable, safely managed water and sanitation services and transformed hygiene practices. We employ a variety of participatory approaches to WASH programming, and we are particularly keen to adopt demand-led approaches whenever possible. 

Working with local governments and building partnerships

Tearfund works with local governments through influencing, advocating and supporting local policy development for better access to WASH. Through this work we help build a more supportive environment particularly in conflict-affected and fragile states. 

Why Advocate for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PDF 178 KB)
This resource is also available in French (PDF 170 KB), Spanish (PDF 169 KB) and Portuguese PDF 169 KB)

Improving water access also means safeguarding water resources and understanding environmental water needs. Tearfund promotes capacity building for water resource management. Through partnerships with community groups, NGOs, government bodies and the private sector, we build capacity to manage water resources and mainstream environmental and economic sustainability.


Tearfund Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Good Practice Guidelines (PDF 233 KB) 

Water, Advocacy, Sanitation and Hygiene. Lessons Learnt from Tearfund's Global Water, Advocacy, Sanitation and Hygiene programme 2007-2012 (PDF 4 MB)


The following research papers, informed by Tearfund, investigate how essential humanitarian activities can be integrated with strategies for long-term sustainable development:

Scott, R., 2013, ‘Sustainable WASH interventions as populations transition from relief to development’, 36th WEDC International Conference, Nakuru, Kenya

Armstrong, A.,2016, ‘Development-oriented relief and recovery in the WASH sector: a survey of current practice’ 39th WEDC International Conference, Kumasi, Ghana