WaterAid was founded in 1981 by men and women in the British water industry with a passion and commitment to improve public health. In many respects, the industry is the great inheritor of 19th century public health engineering projects that changed the lives of the UK population, of which vast numbers lived in Dickensian slums, where disease ran rife due to a lack of safe water and the presence of open sewers.
Today, over 1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to safe water and over2.6 billion do not have access to safe sanitation. Clearly, this situation is a continuing 21st century scandal. As WaterAid has grown in experience, reputation and capability, we have learnt that funding improved water and sanitation projects, while important in its own right, is an insufficient response to the need to meet people’s rights to sufficient, affordable, accessible, safe and acceptable water and sanitation services.
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. To achieve this, the causes that prevent a third of the world from enjoying these fundamental rights must be tackled. However, these causes go beyond bad practices and badly designed programmes. They exist in the legal, economic, political, cultural and social inequalities of societies where WaterAid works, and throughout the rest of the developing world. They are not limited to policies in water and sanitation but include policies that affect people’s access to water and sanitation, for example, policies and programmes for poverty eradication, trade and investment. They include inequalities between classes, genders, ethnicities and other social groups, that lead to the marginalisation of vulnerable people. They include the quality of government, as well as the quality of governance, the ability (or lack thereof ) of poor people to have a voice and the means to hold their governments to account. They include unequal relationships and imbalances of power between the rich industrialised countries of the ‘North’ and the developing countries of the ‘South’.
Together with a growing number of development NGOs, WaterAid is committed to carrying
out advocacy work in order to maximise the impact of its programme activities and to meet
global water, sanitation and hygiene needs. This commitment reflects the corporate aims of the organisation, which include, ‘influencing national policies and practices so that the poor gain access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion services’.
The Advocacy Sourcebook is not only a resource for WaterAid staff and its project partners, but for anyone who wants to understand, plan and carry out advocacy work systematically and effectively. WaterAid is committed to challenging the barriers that prevent access to essential water and sanitation services. We hope that this updated edition of The Advocacy Sourcebook will provide you with the ideas, methods and tools to take action in local campaigns or international movements that make a difference when it comes to who can turn on a tap or go to the toilet with comfort and dignity.