Beyond access: water quality from resource to user

WaterAid/Jashim Salam

Ensuring a good quality water supply that is free from contamination is key to meeting the global goal of providing everyone with access to safely managed water by 2030.

It is also key to WaterAid’s approach to water security, which involves working across the water supply chain – from resource protection, to treatment and routine water safety monitoring. We work with a variety of stakeholders such as district authorities, water supply operators and households.

WaterAid works to demonstrate good water supply practice, encourage behaviour change and protect water sources. We also work to build the capacity of local communities and service providers, and influence national policies and regulations within the broader context of system strengthening.

All water sources constructed or rehabilitated with WaterAid’s support are tested for water quality before they are handed over to households, communities, local authorities or operators. This ensures compliance with our water quality policy and that the water supply presents no significant health risks. This testing regimen is part of WaterAid’s quality programme standards and is set out in each country programme’s own water quality policy, tailored to specific risks and national contexts. WaterAid also follows the World Health Organization’s guidelines for drinking water and meets national standards – unless they are thought to be too lenient.

Beyond initial testing, WaterAid promotes the safeguarding of water quality through a multi-barrier approach. This is country specific and can include:

  • sanitary surveys as an ongoing risk assessment tool
  • improving the design of water supply systems combined with maintenance programmes
  • hygiene behaviour change programmes to minimise the risk of contaminating water between collection and consumption.

This aligns with the WHO’s water safety planning approach and is often implemented as part of a broader water security planning programme.

Case studies

External resources

Top image: Water hero, Sharamon Nowshin Hriddhee, tests water from a borehole. Khulna, Bangladesh. February 2020.