Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation


FAN has received funding from a wide variety of donors since it was established in 2002.
WaterLex – since January 2014, WaterLex has been working closely with FAN to identify grassroots opportunities to realise the human right to water and sanitation. WaterLex has also been supporting FAN’s coordination function as well as the establishment of FAN as a Swiss Association.


DFID Strategic Grant Agreement

In 2009-12, DFID supported FAN with a grant of £1 million over a three-year period. This was followed by a one-year £300,000 grant to support FAN establish itself as an independent organisation. The overall support focused on the following:

  • The development of strengthened governance structures, systems and skills across FAN (including the international secretariat, the global consortium and the independent networks in Asia, Latin America and Africa)
  • The development of FAN South Asia (established in January 2008) into a recognised and effective regional network, with strong governance systems and advocacy activities
  • The improvement of FAN’s capacity in communications, so that it can act as a recognised forum for civil society organisations to learn and share information and experiences
  • The continued enhancement of FAN's ability to enable southern civil society to engage and influence at the international level; this includes the continuing elaboration of a World Bank – civil society dialogue project as well as other multi-lateral institutions and processes in line with the global advocacy strategy.

In December 2010, Alan Duncan, the UK's Minister of State, Department for International Development, gave a speech to parliament which included recognition of FAN’s local–global advocacy and empowerment agenda in a parliamentary debate.


This is what he said: 
"Fifthly, we will directly empower communities and help them to hold their Governments to account

... We have also been supporting citizens to hold their own Governments to account. We fund a global network of southern civil society organisations, the Freshwater Action Network, in South Asia and Africa. Local groups, for example, are carrying out citizen audits to investigate whether there are latrines in schools and presenting the replaceings to their local governments. Lessons on what works are being shared via the global network. The network is also taking part in regional intergovernmental conferences, bringing the views of poor people who are demanding water and sanitation directly to the decision makers, and we will continue to support and develop such innovative and empowering approaches."


DFID has extended its support over 2012-2013.


DFID Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF)

The UK Department for International Development’s Governance and Transparency Fund funded FAN members in fourteen countries in Africa, Asia and Central America to improve the accountability and responsiveness of governments and service providers in the water and sanitation sectors. An exciting aspect of the program was that 85% of the funding went directly to local partners in developing countries.

Together, FAN and WaterAid received £5 million over three years. A portfolio in a total of 16 countries with more than 25 partners (FAN members and WaterAid’s southern partners). The portfolio focused on accountability and responsiveness. 

The initiative followed the publication of DFID’s ‘White Paper’ on International Development – ‘Eliminating world poverty: making governance work for the poor', which set out UK government plans on global poverty elimination through 2011. The report focused on what FAN members know from direct experience – that governance (the capability, accountability and responsiveness of the state) is a key component of poverty reduction.


The contract provided financial support to a range of initiatives aimed at improving the accountability and responsiveness of governments and service providers in the water and sanitation sector. The activities were designed to increase the capacity of civil society to engage in effective evidence based dialogue with decision makers and influence sector policy. Monitoring and advocacy around sector financing will also seek to improve the quality and quantity of allocations and strengthen government and service providers' ability to respond to civil society demands.

Find out more about our governance and transparency work


Until August 2012, WaterAid supported FAN with core funding and organizational support in the form of office space, fiduciary responsibilities, human resource management and guidance. As an independent UK charity, FAN remained hosted in the WaterAid offices. 


EU Water Facility

In November 2007, a contract was signed with the European Commission for funding through the EU Water Facility. This contract, co-funded by WaterAid and the South African Department for Water Affairs and Forestry, provided a budget of around £500,000 per year for three years to the FAN Secretariat and ANEW.


This funding aimed to enable ANEW members to inform and influence governance initiatives and African governments political commitment to prioritise action towards the Millennium Development Goal targets on water supply and sanitation. This contract came to an end in October 2010.

Find out more about the African network


Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

FAN was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2004-07 through a grant of over a million euros.

The goal of the funding was to develop knowledgeable, skilled and networked civil society as a means of structural poverty reduction and meeting the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation.  

Results included:

  • Strengthened NGO and civil society participation in policy making on water
  • Skilled, knowledgeable NGO and civil society advocacy staff in the South 
  • Improved global/regional cooperation amongst NGOs and civil society of different priorities and skills
  • Functioning regional FAN networks with an inter-dependent relationship between UK and region
  • The FAN became a useful, accessible and respected forum for NGO/civil society consultations on water policy
  • Production of accessible and relevant information on emerging policy and processes  

Activities included workshops (skills training, planning), networking, lobbying, information collation and dissemination in Central America, Africa, South Asia.


Mexican Government

In 2006, the Mexico Government supported FAN with a grant to ensure that a greater number of NGOs and community based organisations, particularly from Africa, Asia and Latin America, were involved the 4th World Water Forum Ministerial Conference and WaterExpo. FAN representatives contributed to the thematic content, took part as session conveners and presented their work.