people in Nigeria don't have access to safe water.

Over 130 million people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Nigeria, two thirds of the population.

In Nigeria, around 45,000 children under five years old die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Improving hygiene behaviour is vital if the full benefits of access to water and sanitation are to be realised.

In Nigeria, hygiene is not widely seen as a big health risk, making it a more difficult issue to address. 68% of the population has no access to a toilet and it is these communities that face a higher risk of disease from poor hygiene standards.

A lack of awareness, education and a culture of hygienic living make changes in the community slow and complicated. Often knowledge about hygiene does not transfer into practice very quickly.

WaterAid encourages a community-led approach for long-lasting changes. We promote hygiene through hand washing, helping to reduce sickness in communities and reduce spending on expensive medicines.

Find out more about how we tackle these issues in Our approach >

How it affects people

A woman looking away from the camera, holding a small child

Eliza Ngaiyaye, at home with her daughter Evelyn. Mwenyekondo, Lilongwe, Malawi.

"I think we have diarrhoea because there is a lack of hygiene. In the toilet there is a lack of hygiene. Also around the households there are puddles. In the puddles there are lots of flies, and the flies all come in the house. Also children don’t know how to use the toilet and they get faeces all around it."

Nurse taking the pulse of a woman

A nurse attends to a woman at Kaeweken Health Clinic, River Gee county, Liberia.

"We tell patients that hand-washing is very good, don't put hands straight into your mouth before food. A lot of the problems come from not washing hands and from mosquitoes. Most people drink water from the creek. If we had more handpumps, sickness would go down."

Family washing hands

Patricia Umariya with her children. Gatora village, Bugesera district, Rwanda.

My children usually miss school because their clothes are dirty, as I have no time to wash their clothes. I have to spend my time on the farm and they don’t know how to wash the clothes themselves. They get sent home if they go to school with dirty clothes on."