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Improving Water and Sanitation in Urban & Rural Populations

A girl tests the flush on a newly built family toilet.
A girl tests the flush on a newly built family toilet.

Access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation is necessary for health, income generation, poverty alleviation, gender equality, human rights and personal dignity.

Plan works with communities in urban and rural areas to improve access to safe drinking water and to raise awareness of the importance of waste management.

Urban Populations


In urban areas, we've focused on linking public utility companies to populations, particularly in slum settlements, through network expansions.

  • In the city of Bafata in Guinea Bissau, the rehabilitation of the water tower and safer water supply system was done in joint partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Plan repaired the reservoir and the Ministry repaired the pipeline in the city.
  • In Sri Lanka and in Tanzania, we provided financial support to the local utility companies to extend coverage of 1,500 and 3,421 families, respectively.

In cases where it is not possible to extend public utility coverage, communities were assisted with alternative water sources.

  • In Thailand, we collaborated with local governmental bodies in implementing activities to support families and communities in improving their water resources at home and at school by building small water systems, by providing water jars or by installing small community water tanks. Urban families also benefited from co-financing for the installation of family or communal latrines.

Rural Populations


In rural areas, we work closely with the community to design and implement optimal solutions to improve drinking water and sanitation.

The building of water and sanitation facilities utilizes unskilled labor, local materials and low-cost traditional technology. Construction efforts focus on: gravity flow piped water supply schemes; boreholes fully equipped with manual pumps; wells with child-friendly, durable hand pumps; latrines and sewage systems; water systems, storage tanks, distribution networks, ground reservoir, and public hydrants; and drainage systems to properly dispose wastewater from tube wells and dish washing places in the houses.

The quality of water is protected around the water points by surface installations such as clean surrounds, enclosure, containers for washing clothes; all of which are linked to a runoff through a channel for used water.

Plan typically co-finances infrastructure projects by providing a minimum subsidy of non-local materials such as bags of cement, latrine pans and water seals, iron bars and pipes, and fittings to build the pour flush latrine up to ground level. The remaining costs are funded by individual households. We finance all the building expenses only in situations of extreme poverty or aftermath of natural disasters.

Finally, Plan partners with local governments and organizations to build the capacity of villagers to operate and maintain the water and sanitation services provided.