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At IRC, we believe that turning on a working tap should not be a surprise or cause for celebration. We believe in a world where water, sanitation and hygiene services are fundamental utilities that everyone is able to take for granted. For good.

We face a complex challenge. Every year, thousands of projects within and beyond the WASH sector fail – the result of short-term targets and interventions, at the cost of long-term service solutions.

This leaves around a third of the world's poorest people without access to the most basic of human rights, and leads directly to economic, social and health problems on a global scale. IRC exists to continually challenge and shape the established practices of the WASH sector.

Through collaboration and the active application of our expertise, we work with governments, service providers and international organisations to deliver systems and services that are truly built to last.

Our mission – how we achieve our vision

We work with people in the poorest communities in the world, with local and national governments, and with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to help them develop water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services that last not for years, but forever. We identify the barriers to making this happen and we tackle them. We help people to make the change from short-term interventions to long-term services that will transform their lives and their futures.

We do this by:

  • uncovering the problems people face in maintaining WASH services in the communities that need them most;
  • helping those who plan and provide services to adapt and change the way they think and work, creating learning communities that go on to develop credible, affordable and long-term services;
  • putting ideas and knowledge into practice through innovative action research that helps people make better use of money and time and increases their awareness of what’s needed;
  • advocating and sharing expertise, experience and insights with all those who can make change happen;
  • influencing policies and practices that affect those people whose lives and futures are threatened by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.

Our goals – what we want to achieve

We have one overarching goal: safe and sustainable WASH services for all by 2025.

During 2012-2016 we’ll work with international partners and in selected focus countries and regions, to make sure that safe water, sanitation and hygiene is better managed and governed, and made to last.

By 2016, those at the forefront of the WASH sector will be:

  • developing long-term services – short-term, unsustainable projects will become a thing of the past;
  • learning, adapting, and openly sharing knowledge, data, experience and tools;
  • open about and accountable for their individual and collective successes and failures.

By 2016, governments will:

Set frameworks for delivery of WASH services that have been agreed nationally and regionally, and use proven and effective financial, management and technical models.

By 2016, organisations and agencies that fund, regulate and deliver WASH services will:

  • use these frameworks to shape their work;
  • set post-Millennium Development goals in terms of levels and quality of service, not just numbers of communities or projects;
  • make more effective use of their time and money.

By 2016, WASH services will be everyone’s business, because this work is too important to be left to one sector alone:

  • the WASH sector will be working with a wider range of partners, from government education, health and finance departments to the private sector; NGOs to individual communities.

By 2016, there will be fewer failed water, sanitation and hygiene projects, more people able to drink safely and practice good hygiene, and more families and communities able to survive and live their lives fully.

Our values and principles – what we believe in and how this affects our work

We believe in human rights: access to safe, sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right for everyone, not a privilege. We’re committed to helping those who are poor and excluded from basic services to achieve that right.

We listen, learn and share: we don’t have all the answers and we are open to new ideas and different ways of thinking. Our partnerships – with donors, governments, sector specialists, NGOs and communities – are based on listening, learning and sharing; openness and respect; consensus and agreements; and mutual ownership of solutions.

We work with integrity, honesty and transparency: we do not shy away from the truth and are open and honest with ourselves, and the people we work with. We stand up for greater transparency in sharing knowledge and information.

We believe in local autonomy and accountability: decisions need to be taken as close as possible to those they will affect. Those with community or regional responsibilities must have the freedom and means to take action, and also be held accountable.

We are professional in purpose and in action: we see ourselves as a professional body, both in supporting and developing our sector and in our own drive for excellence.

We live and work by these values and principles, and encourage our partners in communities, governments and NGOs to do so too.

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