Annual report and accounts 2015-16

Reporting back

Practical Action's annual report and accounts for 2015-16 are available to download as a PDF file. They include a review of our international programmes against strategic objectives, the report of the independent auditors and a detailed financial statement.

View our 2015-16 annual report in your browser

Download the 2015-16 annual report as a PDF (8MB)

Please note: this is an archive file, and does not contain the most recent information. For Practical Action's latest Annual Report and Accounts, please go to

Messages from the Chair and Chief Executive

Welcome to our 2015/16 annual report. We hope you enjoy reading about the great impact Practical Action is making on the lives of people across the developing world.

Our work is only made possible by the dedication and generosity of our donors and supporters who helped us raise almost £30 million in 2015/16. I would like to express my deep thanks to everyone who contributed to our achievements.

In 2015/16 we directly benefitted 1.7 million people – more people than ever before. This is through working in four focus areas: energy access; water, waste and sanitation services; disaster risk reduction; and agriculture. Our knowledge sharing and influencing work has reached many more.

Technical resources produced by our knowledge service, Practical Answers, were downloaded two million times. Our Policy team helped ensure that energy access became one of the Sustainable Development Goals and through the COP 21 climate talks in Paris that the needs of poor people in adapting to climate change are met.

We are constantly striving to ensure that as much money as possible directly benefits the world’s poorest people. We are delighted to report that 88p in every £1 is spent on charitable activities. The rest is spent on necessary administration and raising money.

Making a lasting difference

I witnessed first-hand how clever thinking can help address devastating problems when I recently visited Bangladesh, where regular flooding devastates millions of lives each year. With short or no warning, homes can be submerged and possessions destroyed. We improved flood forecasting by working with a local Bangladeshi software developer to create a mobile application that transmits river readings. These are combined with Bangladesh Met Office data to create five-day forecasts that are transmitted back to local communities and posted on weather boards. Now, with five days warning, people can evacuate their homes and get their families to safety before a flood arrives.

Planning for the future

Paul Smith Lomas was appointed Chief Executive in November 2015. He is now leading the organisation in defining our longer term ambition and strategy and in delivering an innovative, creative and impactful programme to tackle poverty with appropriate technology.

Helena Molyneux
Chair of Trustees

I am delighted to present my first annual report as Chief Executive, having taken over from Simon Trace who stood down after ten years of service. It was wonderful that he was honoured with a CBE for services to international development, which is a great testament to his outstanding leadership.

Making change possible

My first week as CEO was spent in Sudan. The photo above is of a field of Sorghum I visited – a field which no-one had farmed for over 20 years because it was so dry. Yet today, farmers have healthy crops even in a poor rainy season. This is due to a water diverting dam that we worked with the community to construct. It slows and spreads the flow of water to a greater area, irrigating 1,680 hectares that is farmed by 11,000 families.

When in Sudan I met Aziza, a farmer who said that thanks to the dam and the resulting water that reaches her farm, she is producing more vegetables and is earning more money, which she is now saving to send her children to school.

We are partnering with other organisations in other parts of the country to deliver similar schemes and help thousands more people benefit. This is a great example of how we can take our experience to scale, which means lots more people can benefit from what we have learned. There are more examples of this approach on page 4 and throughout the report.

Celebrating 50 years of impact

This year we celebrated 50 years of Practical Action’s work. Our founder Fritz Schumacher believed that small, simple ‘intermediate technologies’, based on the needs and skills of poor people, could play an important role in lifting people out of poverty. While in many cases the technical solutions have moved on, the underlying ethos remains the same and our work is still as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

In fact, the need for our work has never been more pressing. Millions of people are being left behind for want of smart solutions to the devastating problems they experience. Practical Action and our partners have the ideas, the expertise and ambition to make a lasting difference to the lives of millions of people living in poverty. Together with the dedication of our staff, supporters, donors and partners, we hope more people will join us in our mission to help make this a reality.

Paul Smith Lomas
Chief Executive


  • A message from our Chair and Chief Executive
  • Trustees’ Annual and Strategic Report
  • Trustees’ Administrative Report
  • Independent auditor’s Report
  • Financial statements
  • 2015/16 at a glance

Previous editions of Practical Action's Annual Report & Accounts can be viewed here.

Download this year's annual report

Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16

A year of impact – Practical Action's annual report for 2015-16, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

How your support is making a difference

In the last year your support has helped reach 1.7 million people with the simple solutions they need to change their lives. We're proud of what we have been able to achieve together, and we hope their stories make you feel proud too. Thank you!

Previous year's reports

Archive of previous years' reports and accounts

Annual Report and Accounts 2014-15

Reporting Back – Practical Action's annual report for 2014-15, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

Annual Reports and Accounts 2013-14

Reporting Back – Practical Action's annual report for 2013-14, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13

Reporting Back – Practical Action's annual report for 2012-13, including highlights of our work and full financial statement.

Transforming Lives: how your support is going even further

In 2014-15, you helped us to change the lives of 1.2 million people. In this report, you’ll see how, with your support we have helped people across the world.

Changing Lives: how your support is making a difference

In 2013-14, Practical Action worked with over a million people in some of the poorest and most remote places in the world. This short report looks at some examples of the communities that your support has helped.

Regional and country offices

Annual reports from Practical Action's regional and country offices can also be downloaded.

Practical Action Bangladesh Annual Report 2015-16

Tracing Back is the annual report of Practical Action Bangladesh for the year 2015-16.

Nepal annual report 2015-16

Practical Action Nepal shares the highlights of 2015-16 in this annual report. This report is not just a nutshell of data and statistics but also a snapshot of change on ground and its contribution to policy and practice. This reflects our learning, success in transforming lives and our application of technology justice to bring about positive impacts on the lives of poor people.

Eastern Africa annual report 2015-16

Our achievements for 2015-16 saw us together with our partners make a significant contribution in changing the lives of almost half a million residents.

Practical Action Sudan Review 2014-16

Programs in Review – an overview of Practical Action's work in Sudan 2014-16.

Memoria institucional 2014-2015

An overview of Practical Action's work in Latin America, with highlights of projects and activities.

How we raise the money

In 2015-16 Practical Action had an income of £29.7 million. Of this, 37% was raised from voluntary donations and legacies from individuals, and 10% from donations from small family trusts and companies.

A further 53% came from grants made by the UK and other governments for development assistance, by multilateral development agencies and other large funders such as international trusts.

Download: 2015-16 income from donors over £10,000

How is the money spent?

Practical Action spent £28.9 million in 2015-16. The majority of spend, 87%, was on charitable activities - on our programmes round the world and the operations of the subsidiaries - and 12% was reinvested in further fundraising. Only 1% of expenditure was on management and administration (calculated by UK Charity Commission-regulated norms).

A comprehensive breakdown of income and expenditure is provided in the financial statements that form part of the Annual Report & Accounts.

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