Sanitation and toilets don’t just preserve dignity, they save lives. Every day 2.4 billion people face the threat of deadly diseases because they don’t have access to basic sanitation.
Aminata and her son David posing next to their new latrine
Aminata and her son David next to their new toilet, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

What is sanitation?

Sanitation refers to services and facilities such as toilets, sewer systems and running water. They ensure our human waste gets disposed of properly, and help keep us healthy and hygienic.

Now imagine if you were faced with that difficulty every single day. Access to sanitation means we don’t have to think about where to go to the toilet, or worry about contracting deadly diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

How do toilets save lives?

Toilets mean healthier lives. They also mean that children can spend more time at school, adults can be more productive, and everyone can enjoy the dignity and privacy of a safe loo.

For women and girls in the world's poorest communities, going outside at night to find a place to relieve themselves can leave them feeling afraid and vulnerable to attack.

When families have access to proper sanitation and a toilet at home, at school, and at work, they have a great chance of leading healthier, happier lives.

Sanitation is a basic human right, and yet 2.4 billion still don’t have access to a safe, private toilet and 900 million people are forced to defecate outside.

Help us reach everyone everywhere with a safe, clean toilet >  

Some groups, such as women or disabled people, often miss out on services such as access to safe water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion. This affects their health, and prevents them from living dignified and prosperous lives.

Safe water, sanitation and hygiene services should benefit everybody. For example, toilets and safe water points should be accessible for wheelchair users and menstrual hygiene education should be available for all women and girls.

We work with local partners to reach the poorest and most marginalised people, and call on governments to provide solutions for everyone everywhere.

We believe governments can enable change so that public and private organisations and civil society can all operate effectively.

We also work with governments to develop national strategies to reach everyone everywhere with sustainable, safe water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Find out about the technologies we use >

We believe that taps and toilets will play a crucial role in eradicating poverty.

That’s why over the last three years our supporters campaigned tirelessly to help us achieve something life-changing: a dedicated Global Goal for water and sanitation.

In September 2015, world leaders met at the United Nations General Assembly and committed to 17 Global Goals – on issues including health, hunger and education – with the aim of ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and fixing climate change.

Find out how the Global Goals could change the future for all of us and our planet >

The generosity of our supporters is behind everything we do. Individuals, companies, trusts, foundations and governments are all committed to our vision of a world where everyone everywhere has access to safe water, taps and toilets by 2030.

Donations from appeals, events and funding partnerships provide the vital resources to carry out our work.

Many of our tireless, intrepid and inventive supporters are also fantastic campaigners and advocates, telling their friends about WaterAid, encouraging others to get involved, and raising the profile of the issues behind the crisis.

How you can make a difference >

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