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10 NGOs Working for Sanitation in India

Nearly 91 million of people in India do not have access to safe water. Moreover, 746 million people lack access to household sanitation facilities and toilets and are exposed to defecating in forests, fields, and other public spaces. The number of people exposed to poor sanitation in India is amongst the highest in the world, with their health being severely affected by infectious diseases.

With the support of NGOs, the Indian government has invested major resources in recent years to combat the issues of poor sanitation and mitigate health issues. However, many still do not have appropriate toilets at their homes and many simply do not have other option than to use public spaces as toilets, exposing their health at risk.

To support communities living on the margins of Indian society, NGOs – from local to global- are implementing programmes to provide people to have a dignified access to toilets and clean water. Here are 10 great NGOs working to provide people in India to live with dignity.

#1 Water.org: Safe Water Protects and Saves Lives

Who they are: Water.org is working globally to bring sanitation and water to people in need. It was founded 30 years ago by Matt Damon and Gary White, pioneers in market-driven financial solutions to the global water crisis. They are present in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and so far, have helped more than 51 million people who now have access to sanitation and safe water at their homes.

Water.org helps people get access to safe sanitation and water through affordable financing, such as small loans. They strive to give their everything to empower people in need- give women hope, children health and families a bright future.

What they do: Water.org partners up with different organizations, such as commercial banks, social enterprises, microfinance institutions, state rural livelihoods missions, payment banks and governmental agencies to mobilize resources and share knowledge to increase affordable access to sanitation and safe water for families living in poverty.

Their impact: The NGO has been present in India since 2004 and it has empowered more than 20.8 million people, who now have access to sanitation and safe water through WaterCredit solution, a model which Water.org originally launched in India.

Water.org massively impacted the life of Anita, who wanted to provide her daughter with a healthy space but paying for a toilet at home felt financially impossible. For many years the family used open fields for their sanitation needs, putting their wellbeing at risk. Anita decided to meet with Water.org’s local partner bank to obtain a loan and pay for the toilet at their household. For Anita’s daughter, having a toilet at their home has changed their lives…

Ways to get involved: Donating to Water.org directly through their website can empower families living in poverty with lasting access to clean water and sanitation, as well as the hope for a better future.

#2 Sakshi: Educate, Enable, Power, Sustain!

Who they are: Established in 1993, Sakshi is an Indian-based NGO working continuously to educate and rehabilitate children in slum areas of Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida. Sakshi believes that every child has the right to food, clothing, education, home, medical services, and most importantly-care and love. Their mission is to reinforce children’s abilities to choose their future through education as a key to unlocking the potential within every individual.

What they do: Sakshi implements projects in the areas of health, education and support to women and children. One of their most successfully implemented projects is the WASH project through which they promote water hygiene and work with local sanitation and water committees to monitor the maintenance of water point.

Besides campaigning, Sakshi builds toilets at schools and provides hygiene education to children and their families who live in slums. Their goal is to prevent the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera. Sakshi proudly call themselves as ‘’the best NGO in the field of water and sanitation’’ since they teach children how to maintain their personal hygiene in sanitary conditions and act as a catalyst by spreading this knowledge to their families.

Their impact: Sakshi currently conducts 15 different projects across education and health-related areas. They are reaching and helping over 50 thousand women and children in slums. So far, they have supported 478 800 midday meals for children, installed women’s helpline in 29 districts, educated 500 000 girls, sponsored 100 school libraries and given 1200 children education annually.

Ways to get involved: You can donate directly to Sakshi’s causes through their website and support the brighter future of India’s women and children.

#3 WaterAid: Towards Health, Hygiene & Sanitation

Who they are: Part of the global WaterAid network, WaterAid started working in India in 1986 as one of the first NGOs providing and improving access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene across the country.

Determined to change people’s lives for good, WaterAid’s mission is to enable communities to unlock their potential to break free from the cycle of poverty.

What they do: With the help of their partners, WaterAid works with communities in urban and rural areas in India. They conduct multiple projects in drinking water security, urban WASH, school WASH, rural sanitation and WASH in health and nutrition.

WaterAid provides training for students and teachers and addresses the gaps in WASH infrastructure to promote menstrual hygiene facilities. They also provide local authorities with assistance to integrate maintenance of water, sanitation and hygiene structures.

Their impact: WaterAid’s assistance reaches thousands of people in underprivileged communities in India. One of them is Shantamma, a 55-year-old farmer living in Jallipetta village in Chittoor. Since she got married and came to live in Jallipetta, Shantamma’s responsibility has been to collect water on a daily basis for her family. In her village, men of the household do not worry about this responsibility. Along with other women in the village, Shantamma experienced daily struggles in collecting water from agricultural fields despite the presence of a community tap in front of her home since it almost never worked. With WaterAid’s assistance, which restored the community tap, Shantamma’s workload in collecting water for her 14 family members has significantly reduced…

Ways to get involved: Your donation to WaterAid can provide temporary station for a family without access to running water.

#4 DASRA: Prioritizing Lives in Philanthropy

Who they are: Acting as a catalysator in India’s strategic philanthropy movement, DASRA’s goal is to transform a billion lives with equity and dignity. They were founded in 1999 to support charities in their growth and increase their impact on vulnerable population in India. Two decades after, DASRA continues to thrive in strengthening leading NGOs, increasing philanthropists’ impact and enabling the Indian government to better serve communities.

What they do: With their team of more than hundred individuals, DASRA strives to accelerate social change in India. They work tirelessly to build partnerships with hundreds of charities and non-profits in both India and from around to world, to ensure India achieves the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Dasra has been working on sanitation projects in urban areas of India since 2012. They assist underprivileged communities directly by building toilets to decrease the spreading of bacteria. DASRA also works with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to enable total sanitation in India and provide sanitation services for human waste management in urban areas.

Their impact: Besides directly reaching communities and helping them to live in dignity, DASRA also serves as a Secretariat to the National Faceal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance (NFSMM Alliance). Since 2017, the Alliance has grown into a body comprised of 35 organizations and more than 120 individuals working together to provide policy recommendations at city, state and national levels.

Ways to get involved:  If you wish to get involved and support DASRA, you can write them and contact them directly through their website.

#5 SWADES: Water & Sanitation

Who they are: With a vision in mind to ‘’ensure that every household in its geography has a toilet on their own and receives liters of potable water a day through taps installed at homes’’, Ronie and Zarina Screwvala founded the SWADES-an NGO focused on empowering rural India.

They connect rural communities with corporates, other NGOs, young urban India and government to implement programs that transform their own lives. SWADES conducts programs in rural Maharashtra and is currently focused on Raigad district.

What they do: Besides providing households with clean water, one of the prime concerns for SWADES is proper sanitation. They work to ensure that every rural family has access to a toilet in their households and uses it every day.

To educate the public on healthy hygiene, SWADES organizes various street plays, community-led total sanitation programmes, rallies and other activities to engage with the community and ensure an open defecation free area.

Their impact: Since their founding, SWADES has impacted the lives of more than 2 million people, constructed 26.677 thousand toilets, connected 42.394 water taps in domestic households, equipped 233 schools with drinking water and sanitation facilities, and verified 1.419 hamlets defecation free.

Ways to get involved:  You can support SWADES’ efforts directly through their website and change lives with access to clean drinking water.

#6 Water for People: Helping Indians bring Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to their Communities

Who they are: Water for People is an international NGO working in Latin America, Africa and Asia to provide every person with reliable water and sanitation services. The idea behind Water for People began in early 1980s, with three Canadians-Ken Miller, Wayne Weiss and John B. ‘’Jack’’ Mannion-who wanted to build a better world with their expertise.

Water for People started working in India in 1996. In 2008 they developed a locally registered branch to work together on projects funded by individuals, foundations, and Indian corporations.

What they do: Through their initiatives, the organization supports the government of India in conducting a country-wide campaign to eliminate defecation and improve solid waste management. A Water for People Sanitation Hub conducts research and invents new ideas, tools and sanitation products. They support local sanitation entrepreneurs with training and loans to develop their toilets and supplies selling businesses. They also partner up with microfinance institutions to give out loans for investment in bathrooms.

Their impact: To date, Water for People has implemented projects in 20 districts in India and impacted over 1 million people. They reached 24.428 people with new or improved sanitation, 53.156 people with new water access and hygiene education.

Ways to get involved:  You can donate to Water for People to change lives and through clean water and safe sanitation directly through their website.

#7 Gramalaya: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All

Who they are: A group of committed youths in the field of rural development established Gramalaya in 1987.

Throughout the years, the organization implemented many projects in the field of sanitation, water, and hygiene in all areas of India-urban, rural, coastal and tribal. Their major activities include hygiene and health education, construction of low-cost latrines, and promotion of self-help groups amongst urban, rural and tribal women.

What they do: Gramalaya conducts projects in 3 areas-individual household toilets, reusable cloth paths and MHM and nutrition.

In the area of sanitation, the NGO implements projects together with state governments and districts in India. So far, they have provided more than 6 million individual homes with toilets and declared several slums and villages as open defecation free zones.

Their impact: Since their establishment, Gramalaya has had a great impact on Indian population.  In 2002 they delivered India’s first 100% open defecation free slum and in 2003 India’s first 100% defecation free village. Their latest success was in 2019, when they declared India’s first 100% cloth pads using village.

Ways to get involved:  If you wish to support Gramalaya in their efforts, you can contact them directly through their website.

#8 Jaldhaara Foundation

Who they are: Jaldahaara Foundation is an NGO working to provide sustainable WASH solutions to underserved communities across India. Their vision is to ‘’build preference for safe water, sanitation and hygienic practices in unaddressed, isolated and marginalized communities of India’.

Jaldahaara’s ultimate goal is to develop and implement sustainable WASH solutions in more than 2 thousand communities by 2024.

What they do: Jaldahaara’s implements WASH programmes for communities, women, and schools. In community programs, a special focus of the organization is put on women who are the most impacted by the lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities. They focus on improving access for women to WASH, hygiene and menstrual health, as well as the health of young girls, mothers and children.

At schools, Jaldahaara ensures to provide a healthy physical environment for children, eliminates malnutrition and teaches them to pass the knowledge on health and hygiene to their families. The organization also installs and maintains bio-toiles in the most challenged areas to impact sanitation.

Their impact: So far, Jaldahaara has successfully dispensed 1 billion liters of clean and safe drinking water, conducted programmes in over 90 schools, installed 119 decentralized community water systems, and directly reached 2.4 million people.

Ways to get involved:  If you want to make a difference together with Jaldhaara, you make either one-off or regular monthly donations directly through their website.

#9 WASH Institute: Bridging the Knowledge Gap

Who they are: The WASH Institute was established in 2008 in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu in India. They provide solutions to the issues of sanitation, water, hygiene and environment. Their vision is ‘’a world in which all the communities have access to safe, protected and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services, with improved hygiene practices’’.

The NGO received several awards for their work, including a national reward for The Best Institute on Sanitation Skill by India Today and several other national awards. Currently, they work in 15 locations across 8 states in India.

What they do: They conduct research and provide technical services and training to governments, philanthropic organizations, and other NGOs. The WASH institute is also dedicated to strengthening capacities of students and other professionals engaged in issues of water and sanitation in India. It provides courses for students who are later able to advance their careers as sanitary and health inspectors, researchers, and wastewater experts.

Their impact: Through their grassroot projects, the WASH Institute has had a strong impact on the population in India, especially children. Little Doctors Group is a prime example of the organization’s successful project which addressed the issue of small injuries and health problems at schools. As a result, 1852 children in 10 schools are benefiting from the project by having the first aid kits at their disposal.

Ways to get involved: If you want to support the Wash Institute you can donate directly through their website or you can simply ‘’spread the word’’ across Twitter, Facebook or other social media.

#10 Friend In Need India

Who they are: Friend in Need India is an NGO that acts as a research, teaching and training laboratory. Their goal is to support India in reaching the sustainable development goals with regard to sanitation, waste management and hygiene.

They are active in livelihood projects, community actions, frugal innovations, social science research and education.

What they do: This NGO’s central activity is to promote the use of dry flush toilets with urine diversion, known as ecosan toilets. They are working to meet the cultural needs of the population of India to make ecosan a popular mainstreaming model. They also repair existing toilets and handwashing facilities in villages.

Their impact: Friend in Need implemented over 300 ecosan toilets in villages across India. They have also educated many students and children to be ambassadors of change through WASH programmes in their communities.

Ways to get involved:  If you wish to support the Friend in Need, you can directly do so through their website.