844 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water.

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

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.

The crisis

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

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.

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663 million people don’t have access to clean water. Without this basic service, they have no choice but to drink dirty water that could kill them.

Can you imagine life without clean water to drink? For millions of people it's a daily reality.

Everyone everywhere needs a clean and sustainable supply of water: for drinking, washing, cleaning, cooking and growing food. It’s a basic human right.

Governments around the world have not done enough to ensure clean water reaches the poorest and most marginalised people in society.

In many countries around the world, taps, wells and pipes simply don’t exist. Even where they do, they are often not affordable for the poorest people or are not designed to last.

Women and girls suffer the most. They are forced to walk long distances to collect dirty water, wasting their time and energy. This means they miss out on an education, lack the opportunity to make a living, and have little chance to change things. They are also more likely to get sick with water-related diseases.

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2.4 billion people – one in three – don’t have access to a proper toilet. Many are forced to go in the open, spreading deadly diseases.

What would life be like without a toilet? Billions of people know only too well.

A toilet is something everyone should take for granted – at home, school, work and in public places. It is a basic human right that protects people from dangerous diseases.

Governments have neglected sanitation for too long, resulting in a severe lack of skills, resources and systems to ensure everyone has access to a toilet that effectively disposes of human waste.

Women going to the toilet outside face harassment and even attack, and girls drop out of school unable to manage their periods privately. Any chance of an education and a better future is all but lost.

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Without good hygiene, such as handwashing, people can’t stay clean and deadly diseases spread fast.

Many people are unaware that good hygiene is a lifesaver.

Something as simple as handwashing with soap could halve the number of cases of diarrhoea. But many people are not aware of the link between hygiene and health, and this allows the spread of deadly diseases.

Good hygiene maximises the benefits of clean water and proper toilets, keeping people healthy so they can go to school or earn a living.

Yet, hygiene promotion schemes, where they exist, often fail to change entrenched practices such as going to the toilet in open areas around the community. They also often don’t address key concerns such as menstrual health training for young women.

Even when people have the knowledge to make positive changes, they often lack soap or access to washing facilities.

Find out how we transform lives with hygiene >

Global Goals

At the UN General Assembly in September 2015, member states decided on a set of new Global Goals for the world to work towards to end extreme poverty by 2030. The new Global Goals include a dedicated goal for water and sanitation to tackle the crisis head on.

Implementing the Global Goals >

Nurse listening to heartbeat of pregnant lady


Clean water, a clean living environment and a clean body are essential for good human health. By focusing on health in our research, programme and advocacy work, our efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene are better placed to transform the lives of those we reach.

The value of WASH >

Maintenance on a water point in Bangladesh


Improvements to water supply and sanitation services should deliver permanent benefits to their users. Unless we give serious attention to the issue of service sustainability and permanent behaviour change, we will not achieve universal and lasting access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

Delivering lasting change >