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Safe Water Strategy

Dear Claire,

The rural water and sanitation sector is plagued by high failure rates because technolgies are not designed for sustainability and there is a lack of understanding of the local context. A third of rural water systems break down soon after they are installed, toilets are either not used or there are no systems to safely dispose of waste.

The WASHTech project has attempted to address these issues by developing tools to assess and introduce new technologies. A short video provides a good introduction to the tools. The tools themselves and case studies of their use are available on

To get an idea of what are the main (technology) issues related to rural water supply and who is working on them, the best place to go is the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) - A similar platform for sanitation practitioners is SuSanA -

One thing to be aware of if you wish to focus on rural water supply is that people's water needs are broader than just drinking water. They need water for cooking, washing, sanitation, watering animals, growing food and generating income as well. Technology choices need to take these multiple uses into account. See for more information.

Besides being robust and reliable, the best technologies are those that can be easily tweaked to local contexts, locally produced and maintained and are scalable.

Cor Dietvorst Programme Officer | Information Specialist and News Editor | IRC | | Twitter @dietvorst