Access to drinking water and hygiene on precarious sites in metropolitan France
330.000 homeless people (source FAP)
4.118.000 poorly housed people (source FAP)
413 slums in metropolitan France
5.035 people helped


4.1 million people are inadequately housed in France. Among them, 330,000 are homeless. [1] In metropolitan France, 1.4 million people, i.e., 2.1% of the population, do not have access to safe drinking water [2].

The Covid-19 epidemic highlighted the water insecurity and health precariousness of vulnerable populations. In France, almost 100,000 people live in informal housing (squats, slums, etc.). [3] These people resort to solutions that are unsuitable (fire hydrants), expensive (purchase of bottled water) or even dangerous (use of surface water: rivers, puddles, unauthorized connections leading to risks of leaks and water contamination), exposing them to health and legal risks. The water chores associated with non-connection situations also limit their chances of social integration (schooling, employment).   

The island of Mayotte, France’s 101st department, is under considerable water stress. Often living in very precarious conditions, the population is confronted with water rationing and cut-offs. It is estimated that by 2023, Mayotte’s drinking water reserves will be exhausted by August, several months before the rainy season. Vulnerable people are likely to turn to surface water for drinking and washing. This situation gives rise to fears of an explosion in water-borne diseases and calls for a rapid and appropriate response. On the field, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is combating the lack of access to water through pilot schemes to optimize water resources and coordinated mechanisms for rapid response to potential epidemics linked to the poor quality of the water used. However, current tensions are complicating the implementation of these activities.  

Initially conceived as an emergency response to Covid-19, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s actions have continued in France, in response to the importance of access to water, hygiene, and sanitation, as well as the lack of an effective public policy on the subject. 

[1] 28th report on poor housing, Fondation Abbé Pierre  

[2] Joint Monitoring Program Report 2019, WHO/UNICEF

[3] 28th report on inadequate housing, Fondation Abbé Pierre 

  • 68 million inhabitants
  • 28th out of 191 on the Human Development Index

Our action

  • Mission
    opened in 2020 (re-opening)
  • Team 18 national staff
  • Budget 0.98M€

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL responds to emergencies on precarious housing sites and works with the relevant players to find sustainable solutions. Interventions help to improve living conditions, by providing access to drinking water. Thanks to our technical support and advocacy department, we are also able to document the often-invisible situation of these populations. 

Three specific goals:

  • Ensure a rapid response to the needs for water and hygiene of populations not connected to the water supply system.
  • Develop pilot projects to standardize access to basic “technical” services in stabilization projects for site resorption (sanitation, waste, pests, etc.).
  • Conduct advocacy and technical reinforcement activities at the local and national levels

Areas of intervention:

  • Ile-de-France (15 sites, 1,800 beneficiaries)
  • Métropole Européenne de Lille (8 sites, 325 beneficiaries)
  • Nantes Métropole, including several sanitation projects (26 sites, 1,545 beneficiaries)
  • Toulouse: several pilot projects: pest control, waste management, menstrual precariousness (220 people supported)
  • Aix-Marseille-Provence (11 sites, 775 beneficiaries)
  • Mayotte
  • Technical support in the North Coast, Lyon, Montpellier and Bordeaux areas.

Key figures:

  • 2,000 hygiene kits distributed to vulnerable families  
  • 320 water and sanitation diagnostics   
  •  120 water access facilities installed  


22.5% of people identified by the authorities as living in precarious housing (metropolitan France) have access to water secured by SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL.  


Institutional and private funding partners ARS Ile-de-France, Banque Populaire, DIHAL, FAP, CMA-CGM Foundation, Fondation d’entreprise VINCI pour la Cité, Fonds de dotation Qualitel, Lille Metropolitan Authority, La Chapelle-sur-Erdre Municipality, City of Marseille, City of Toulouse, Nantes Metropolitan Authority, Bouches-du-Rhône Prefecture, Essonne Prefecture, Haute-Garonne Prefecture, Loire-Atlantique Prefecture, Occitanie region Prefecture, Seine-Saint-Denis Prefecture, Val de Marne Prefecture, Yvelines Prefecture, Véolia Eau d’Ile-de-France Eau Solidaire, Véolia Eau de Toulouse
Operating partners ACF, ACINA, Aquassistance, CFC, Coalition Eau, Artelia Foundation, Veolia
Foundation, JUST, MdM, Plateforme Précarité Santé, Règles Elémentaires, Romeurope, Roots, Ventes contraires, Trajectoires

Our impact

water sanitation

Rapid response to the WASH needs of communities with no running water

  • Installation of drinking water supplies
  • Co-construction of sanitary facilities with communities
  • Community mobilization
  • Participation in local plans to eliminate makeshift housing
  • Assessment and recommendations for local authorities
  • Improvement of access to sanitary facilities

Advocacy for the right to water access for all

  • Technical advocacy targeting national and local authorities
  • Technical, regulatory and legal support for stakeholders
  • Development of technical manuals on WASH in makeshift housing and settlements
  • Alerting about situations deemed to be below humanitarian standards

Should you have any questions, please contact Philippe Bonnet

Philippe Bonnet


At head office