SHF uses a three-pronged approach in the fight against poverty in relation to water and sanitation.

All of SHF’s projects include five vital and inter-related components:

  • Clean water supply (E.g. wells, hand held pumps)
  • Basic Sanitation facilities (E.g. ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines)
  • Hygiene promotion
  • Sustainable measures on management of water sources
  • Waste management of run-off water
  • Women Economic Empowerment
  • Orphans and Vulnerable Children

In the past, it was believed that simply increasing people’s access to clean water would lead to significant improvements in health and productivity. Today we know that even greater strides can be made in improving the overall health of communities when the benefits of clean water services are augmented with basic sanitation facilities and a culturally-sensitive hygiene education program intertwined with water and waste management.

Clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education are like the ABCs of development—the building blocks towards a better future.


SHF’s projects emphasize local participation and empowerment. 

SHF encourages community members to participate in every phase of the project’s implementation—from planning and construction to management and maintenance.

Local participation fosters a sense of ownership by the community—adults and children alike—that in turn increases the likelihood that the benefits of new water and sanitation services will be sustained in the long-term. 

SHF, for example, only embarks on projects in communities that have, through community consultations, identified the lack of access to safe water supply as a major problem and have expressed commitment to finding local water and sanitation solutions.

To ensure that projects truly address the needs of local people, SHF conducts participatory needs assessments, including interviews, focus group discussions and community-wide meetings. It’s important that everyone has a chance to participate—we, therefore, take special care to reduce barriers to participation, such as gender and literacy, so to make the process truly inclusive. 

Communities demonstrate their motivation for supporting water and sanitation projects in their willingness to volunteer their labor, provide locally available building materials, and assume positions on Water and Sanitation Management Committees formed to ensure the long-term management and maintenance of the new water and sanitation facilities. These committees also play an important role in helping to support hygiene education activities in their communities. 

SHF’s participatory approach promotes the development of local ownership, skills and capacity that can subsequently be put to use in addressing other development challenges in the community. 

SHF recognizes that local authorities also play an important role in coordinating water and sanitation projects in their jurisdictions. Their active participation is, therefore, solicited so to ensure that projects carried out by SHF are properly integrated into local development plans.

Gender Focused

SHF’s projects include women in all steps and decision-making.

Inadequate water and sanitation services affect all community members, but not all equally. For women and girls, the consequences can be severe and life altering.

Women and girls are primarily responsible for fetching the water needed for household use—drinking, cooking and bathing etc. Domestic water collection is a tiring chore that  can take several hours each day, leaving less time for other more important activities such as attending school, caring for children, growing crops, adult education or running small businesses. Carrying water containers as heavy as 20 kilograms over long distances also result in serious health problems among women and girls.

Women and girls are also the hardest hit by absence of private toilet facilities. Lacking sanitation facilities may mean going the entire day without relief and then risking exposure and possibly assault at night. This routine is damaging to a woman’s physical well-being and limits equitable participation in the social and economic life of her community. The lack of clean and private sanitation facilities at schools, for example, is a primary source of absenteeism for young female students and teachers.

Being strongly aware that women are disproportionately affected by lack of clean water and sanitation, SHF places great importance on fully consulting women and engaging them in all stages of project implementation.

By incorporating gender considerations into project design and management —such matters as location, height of taps, and timing of community meetings etc.— SHF is able to ensure that the new water and sanitation facilities have the greatest possible positive impact on women’s lives.


SHF does projects that are long-term and sustainable at the community level.

This means that upon completion of projects, community members are equipped with all of the tools and knowledge required for them to manage and maintain the new facilities without input from SHF.

All aspects of SHF’s projects are designed and implemented with long-term sustainability in mind. For example, only locally-accessible and low-cost technologies are used so to ensure that operational and maintenance requirements for the new facilities are easily adopted by beneficiary communities.

A key activity to enhance sustainability of new water supply and sanitation services is the formation and training of Water and Sanitation Management Committees in each community. Community members are asked to identify individuals—both men and women—to be trained in operational and financial management of the facilities. In order to pay for the on-going operation and maintenance needs, such as spare parts, SHF also help communities to establish small user fee systems where each household will pay a token fee to cover costs.

In instances where the repair and maintenance needs of the facilities are beyond the community’s capacity, service arrangements are made with local government WASH departments.

The need for Water and Sanitation

Today, nearly 1 billion people, a sixth of the world’s population, do not have access to safe drinking water. More than 2.6 billion people are without basic sanitation.

The water and sanitation crisis is the most fundamental crisis affecting people living in developing countries. Lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of sickness. At any one time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water and sanitation- related diseases!

The fight against poverty begins here. With access to clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education, the cycle of poverty and disease can be broken – making way for dramatic improvements in:

  • General health
  • Education
  • Gender equality
  • Child mortality
  • Maternal health
  • Economic Growth

This is a crisis to which there are cost-effective solutions, and these solutions transform lives and communities.

1.5 million children under the age of five die each year from diarrhea, caused primarily by dirty water and poor sanitation. That is more than 4,100 deaths per day whilst 2.5 million children die each year from other non communicable diseases caused by dirty environment, stagnant water.  

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