WaterAid in Bangladesh calls for action on water access

21 March 2018
State of the Worlds Water2018

To mark World Water Day, on 22 March WaterAid Bangladesh is calling for urgent action from the international community and its government to reach the 3% of people in Bangladesh without access to clean water close to home - leaving no one behind.

WaterAid's State of the World's Water 2018: The Water Gap examines the countries in the world with the highest percentages and largest numbers of people who cannot get clean water within a half hour round trip, as well as those with the most progress, and demonstrates the sizeable gap between rich and poor when it comes to access to water.

Bangladesh has 97% water coverage, according to the Unicef-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme figures, collected in 2015.

Today 844 million people globally do not have clean water, a number which has risen from last year. This is in part because those who are not able to fetch water within a half hour round trip no longer count as having access to water, compounding pressures from urbanisation, population growth, shock weather events and poor financing and prioritisation of water supply.

The report comes as nations prepare for a July 2018 review of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6, to deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030.

Among the main findings:

  • Eritrea, Papua New Guinea and Uganda are the three countries with lowest access to clean water close to home, with Uganda being a new addition to the list this year at 38% access.
  • Cambodia is among the top-10 countries most improved by percentage points, with 75% of people now enjoying clean water close to home, compared to 52% in 2000.
  • Almost every country struggling to provide its people with clean water also has a gap in access between richest and poorest. For instance, in Pakistan, 98% of the wealthiest have access to clean water close to home, while 79% of the poorest do. However, Bangladesh has narrowed its gap – while 99% of the wealthiest have access to water, 93% of the poorest do too.
  • India, while still having the most people without clean water, is also near the top of the list for most people reached: more than 300 million between 2000 and 2015, or nearly equivalent to the population of the United States.

WaterAid's Chief Executive, Tim Wainwright, said:

“It’s deplorable that nearly 300,000 children under five years old die each year from diarrhoeal illnesses directly linked to dirty water, lack of decent toilets and poor hygiene. We all need to step up the urgency around the water and sanitation crisis as current progress is nowhere near fast enough.

“This year presents a time for real change as this summer, progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – to deliver access to water and sanitation for all by 2030 – will be reviewed by world leaders in New York. We urge them to take real action as without water and sanitation, none of the other Global Goals - for alleviating poverty, improving health and creating a fairer and more sustainable world - will be achievable.”

Md. Khairul Islam, Country Director of WaterAid Bangladesh, said:

“The Water-Crisis in Cape Town is a wake-up call for all of us, reminding us that access to water, our most precious resource, is increasingly under threat. Those marginalised by age, gender, class, caste or disability, or living in a slum or remote rural community, are hardest to reach and will continue to suffer as long as governments do not prioritise and fund access to water for all.”


This World Water Day, WaterAid is calling for:

  • Recognition that the UN Global Goals are everyone’s responsibility to deliver, to ensure no one is left behind. Everyone is accountable if they fail.  
  • Responsible environmental management, including regulating the use of water in agriculture and industry, to protect and preserve enough clean water for communities’ basic needs.
  • Including access to water, sanitation and hygiene as central to health, education, nutrition and gender equality. Without water, none of the other UN Global Goals can be met.
  • Urgent action on the ground, at regional, national and global scale. Access to safe drinking water is a UN-recognised human right: politicians need to prioritise it and fund it, civil society must help all people speak out for their rights, and those working in water, sanitation and hygiene must support service providers and government to respond.  
  • Mobilising resources from taxes, tariffs and transfers, and increasing the amount and proportion of aid for water, sanitation and hygiene, to close the gaps in financing. This also means supporting institutions to ensure they are accountable and well-governed, so that money is well-spent, and promoting pro-poor policies that ensure access to water for everyone.


Contact information for further queries:

Faysal Abbas

Manager, Advocacy and Communications

WaterAid Bangladesh

+88 (0) 173 033 4040

[email protected]

Fiona Callister

Global Head of Media

+44 (0) 207 793 5022

[email protected]

Notes to Editors:


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/bd, find WaterAid Bangladesh on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WaterAidBD.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org

[3] washwatch.org  

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage