Unsafe water and poor sanitation cause diarrheal diseases, which kill over 700,000 people every year and lead to malnutrition; parasitic infections such as bilharzia and hookworm; and water-washed diseases including the eye infection trachoma and skin infections such as scabies.
Many children are frequently absent from school because they are collecting water or are sick with water-related diseases. Parasitic infections transmitted through unsafe water can hamper children’s learning potential. It is also difficult to recruit good teachers to work in schools where there is no clean water.
Lack of clean water and toilets costs sub-Saharan Africa 5% of its Gross Domestic Product every year. The hours spent collecting water or suffering from water-related diseases reduce the time people can spend earning money or growing food.