844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.

2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.

289,000 children under 5 die each year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s 800 a day, or 1 child every 2 minutes.

Boy drinking from an unsafe water source
Clean drinking water, proper toilets and good hygiene are essential, yet millions of people don’t have access to these basic services.

The crisis

Across the world, women are forced to waste precious time walking long distances to collect dirty water. Girls are dropping out of school because there are no private toilets, and young children are not surviving to see their fifth birthday because of preventable diseases.

How it affects people

Girls fetching water from a water source

Teenage girls

Nyemo Amani, Tanzania, spends around four hours a day collecting water. Her school has no separate toilets for girls, so she drops out when she is menstruating.
A man crouching at a water pump

People living with a disability

For people living with a disability like Amin Uddin, life was very difficult in the Beltola slum in Dhaka, until specially designed disabled facilities were built after he successfully campaigned for them.
Ukhamaya Sarki collecting water with her 10 month old baby, Mangali, Tosramkhola VDC, Sindhuli district, Nepal.


Ukhamaya collects water with her 10 month old baby, Mangali, in the Sinduli district in Nepal. Infants are unable to develop normally if their bodies are deprived of essential vitamins and nutrients because of diarrhoea.
An elderly woman putting on a jacket

The elderly

In countries with little or no social security, older people are often forced to pay people to fetch them dirty water or make other sacrifices such as going without food or medication.
Students showing their clean hands, Keto School, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.

School children

Before toilets were installed, students at Keto Primary School, Papua New Guinea, would go to the toilet in nearby coffee plantations. Now the children have learnt about sanitation and hygiene; "We wash our hands so that we don't have germs to make us sick."


The time-consuming burden of collecting water in developing communities generally falls on women, often taking several trips a day and many hours of their time.