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Frequently Asked Questions
Does Savethewaters carry out emergency work?
Savethewaters is primarily a development organization, working with communities on long-term solutions to water and sanitation problems. However, in the places where we work, we endeavor to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies where we can make a useful and efficient contribution, especially in protecting or restoring vital water and sanitation services.
We also help communities in disaster-prone regions such as low-lying coastal areas of Bangladesh to prepare for extreme weather events by constructing resilient water and sanitation facilities, such as latrines above ground level that can better withstand flooding.
Why do you work where you do?
The countries where we work are selected based on the following criteria:
- There is potential for WaterAid’s work to be effective and have a long-term positive impact.
- The country lies at the lower end of the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index, or has pockets of extreme poverty and a significant part of the population in the country lacks access to water and sanitation.
- There is an opportunity for Savethewaters’s work to complement the work of others.
As water is a human right, how does WaterAid use this to advocate for water for all?
We lobbied to establish the right to water, which was declared by the UN in 2002, and we now work to help the world’s most vulnerable people secure clean water and sanitation facilities in the following ways:
- Helping our partner organizations to promote the right to water and petition their governments to allocate further resources to these basic services through our Citizens’ Action project.
- Defending the right to water to governments who question whether there is sufficient mandate for water to be viewed as a right.
- Working with other rights organizations to develop education and understanding about the right to water.
Why do communities have to contribute to their projects?
Community involvement is vital to the success of our projects. In places where wells or latrines have been built without community involvement, they will often fall into disrepair as nobody maintains the services or fixes them when they break.
Our projects rely on community ownership. In the early stages we discuss problems and solutions with communities so that they fully understand the links between water, sanitation and hygiene and are motivated to change their environment themselves.
We work with partners to help communities develop the skills to set up, operate and maintain their own water and sanitation facilities and to learn about good hygiene. In this way, communities themselves own the projects and will use them properly and maintain them long into the future.
There are other countries which need water and sanitation too. Why doesn't Savethewaters work there?
The global water and sanitation problem is so vast that we are unable to reach everyone who needs support. It is also worth noting that water and sanitation systems vary enormously around the world because of the following four variables:
- Technical complexity
- Number of users the system will serve
- Ongoing maintenance considerations
- Features or restrictions with the planned site
We specialize in low-cost, technology-appropriate solutions, such as tube wells and biosand filtration systems, solutions that can serve smaller communities rather than larger, more municipal systems that are common in Europe, North America and Canada.
Does Savethewaters work with other organizations?
We are continuously looking for ways to work in partnership with others so that our work will have as much impact as possible. We work with national and local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), networks, research and academic institutions and community-based organizations, among others. We work with them to increase our effectiveness in service delivery and advocacy.
In many of the countries in which we work, local governments have been given the responsibility, but not the skills or resources, to develop water and sanitation services in their regions. We work closely with them to develop their capacity to carry out their work effectively.
We also work with other international NGOs, research institutes and alliances on our reports and advocacy work – both in the countries where we work and internationally.
Why don't you merge with the other non-profit organizations that work in your area?
We work specifically on improving people’s access to water, hygiene and sanitation. However, the scale of the problem is vast and to achieve our vision of a world where everyone has access to these basic needs we are continuously seeking partnerships so that our work has as much impact as possible.
We work with local organizations in the countries where we work, through the structure put in place by the country governments. As the responsibility for water and sanitation often falls to local governments, we work with them to develop their capacity to carry out their work more effectively.
In many countries, we help local government map available water resources to determine what is working. This means any future work can be planned to mend broken facilities (which is cheaper than building new ones) and reach those most in need.
We also work with other international NGOs on our campaigns, reports and advocacy work – both in the countries where we work and internationally. For example we are a founding member of End Water Poverty, a coalition of like-minded organizations calling for water and sanitation for all.
Do you carry out work with governments?
Savethewaters believes that all governments have a responsibility to ensure all citizens have access to water and sanitation services. However, in many of the countries where we work there is often a lack of capacity and funds to make this happen. Savethewaters works with governments nationally and internationally to help ensure that the world’s poorest people gain access to these basic needs.
For example, in some countries, we map the location of existing water and sanitation facilities to see where facilities are required so that any new work reaches the people who need it most. We then work with local governments to build their capacity to deliver on their responsibilities to provide these essential services.
We receive funding from donor governments including the US and British governments. We also work closely with many local government departments, which have been given the responsibility, but often not the resources or training, to carry out water and sanitation work in their area.
Savethewaters also represents non-governmental organizations on the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, one of the main international groupings of government and professional people working in the global drinking water sector.
In democratic countries, why don't people demand better services from their government?
Often, poor communities are marginalized and not aware of their entitlements to basic services. We work with communities to increase their awareness of rights and facilitate dialogue with the government agencies responsible for delivering it.