Turn the page on poverty

How we work

Combining water, sanitation and hygiene education

Oxfam believes that combining water, sanitation and hygiene education can provide a key to poverty reduction. Focusing on projects that integrate these elements maximises health benefits. The results are long-lasting and wide-reaching.

Oxfam partners in the Papua New Guinea Highlands build the roof of a new toilet block.


Working in partnership

Oxfam's local partners undertake the day-to-day management of projects. Oxfam provides financial support, training and technical advice as well as assistance with planning, budgeting and institutional development.

Oxfam's partner organisations are recognised and respected locally. They have a wealth of essential skills and knowledge, from speaking local dialects to understanding how the government functions. They also have well-established relationships with local leaders and strong links with the community.

Oxfam supports its partners and encourages growth and development, allowing partners to replicate projects in other areas. Strengthening local water and sanitation organisations is an important long-term investment, as they will play a vital role in developing their country’s policies and infrastructure. This will help to ensure that one day all people have access to safe water and sanitation.

Community involvement

Communities are involved in all programmes, from planning through to building, managing and maintaining projects. Communities contribute labour and time as well as financial contributions to the running of projects.

Individuals are appointed by their community to manage the project. They receive training from Oxfam and its partners so that they are equipped to run their projects in the long term. Communities are responsible for the regular maintenance and servicing of water and sanitation facilities.

Women and children: a vital role

Women are key participants in successful projects. Their knowledge about water sources is particularly valuable in identifying where the nearest, cleanest water sources are and in which month(s) they dry out.

Involving women in projects has a positive impact on women's position in the community; it allows them to gain new skills and increases their confidence.

The Oxfam Water for Survival Programme always includes an element of hygiene education, and in this area children have proved invaluable. Hygiene education is often given through schools. Children who learn the importance of good hygiene practices will pass these on to their families and to their younger brothers and sisters.