people in the world don't have access to safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world's population.

2.5 billion people don't have access to an adequate bathroom, one in three of the world's population.

More than 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. That's over 1,400 children a day.

Boy drinking from an unsafe water source
Water and hygiene underpin health, education and livelihoods, and yet hundreds of millions of people live without these basic human rights.

The crisis

Without safe water or toilets, people are trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease. Across the developing world, millions of women are wasting precious time collecting dirty water, children are dying from preventable diarrheal diseases, and communities have open sewers running through them.

Find out more about the issues involved in our work:

Children | Financing | Governance | Health | Hygiene | Social exclusion | Sustainability | Urban | Women

How it affects people

A group of adolescent girls fetching water with containers


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. It is usually women who undertake the bulk of care for those who are sick. And mothers suffer tremendous heartbreak when another child is lost.
A woman washing her child


Infants and young children are the most vulnerable to water-related diseases. Children under the age of five account for 90% of deaths due to diarrheal disesases. Repeated diarrhea and nematode infections - often caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation - are also associated with 50% of childhood malnutrition.
A schoolgirl in Tanzania collecting dirty water from a muddy pool.


In many countries children, particularly girls, are responsible for collecting water. Carrying heavy water containers over long distances is exhausting and can lead to long-term damage to children’s heads, necks and spines. Many children are frequently absent from school because they are collecting water or they are sick with water-related diseases.
Girls fetching water from a water source

Adolescent girls

Where there are no private sanitation facilities at school, girls often drop out completely when they reach puberty. Leaving school early can lead to reduced job prospects and early marriage. Uneducated mothers are less likely to ensure their own children complete their education.
A man crouching at a water pump

People with disabilities

Living without safe water and sanitation is particularly challenging for those with disabilities. Traveling to distance water sources and carrying heavy water containers is impossible for some people. Inaccessible design can also prevent people with disabilities from using some water and sanitation facilities.
An elderly woman putting on a jacket

Elderly people

A lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities denies elderly people good health, independence and dignity. Many elderly people have to pay money they can scarcely afford to others to fetch water for them, or are reliant on family members for help.