WaterAid CEO Kelly Parsons featured on new season of PepsiCo Foundation's podcast, Journey to Zero Hunger

Posted by
Jeff Greene
11 May 2023
Individuals, Employees and companies, South Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Global, Campaigns, Fundraising resources, Water, Partnership, Education, Hygiene, Girls and women, Health, Maternal health
Journey to Zero Hunger

With over two billion people lacking access to safe water, the time to act is now. But what does water scarcity have to do with global hunger? Join WaterAid America CEO Kelly Parsons, two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long, and the PepsiCo Foundation's C.D. Glin to find out on the new season of Journey to Zero Hunger.

Water touches everything and everyone on the planet. And without water, there's no food. There's no security.
Kelly Parsons, CEO, WaterAid America

C.D. Glin [00:00:01] Hi. Here's a question for you. Getting a of glass of water ... that's pretty simple, right? It's a twist of the faucet. A turn of the knob. A quick walk to the refrigerator for a refreshing cold drink.

C.D. Glin [00:00:13] Water is right there, for nearly everyone. Except for 2 billion people. Yea, 2 billion people lack access to safe water. That's nearly 25% of the global population.

C.D. Glin [00:00:28] Hunger and water? They go hand in hand. Having a regular source of safe, clean drinking water is directly tied to people's access to food, to malnutrition.

C.D. Glin [00:00:39] So to fight hunger at the source, we have to go to the source of all life on earth: water.

C.D. Glin [00:00:46] I'm C.D. Glin. This is season two of the Journey to Zero Hunger. If you were with us last season, great to have you back. And if you're new here, welcome to the journey.

C.D. Glin [00:00:58] I'm a firm believer in the limitless potential in every one of us, and sadly, I've seen up close how hunger hides potential. My personal journey has taken me around the world. I was a Peace Corps volunteer and then helped lead global agricultural initiatives for the Rockefeller Foundation. And while serving in the Obama administration, I looked for ways that would bring together the public, nonprofit and private sectors and get things done for grassroots communities.

C.D. Glin [00:01:24] Today, I'm the global head of philanthropy for PepsiCo. We're a big company, which means we have a big responsibility to do more good for more people in more places. That's why PepsiCo has joined the Zero Hunger Pledge. We're on a mission to eliminate global hunger by 2030, and collectively we can do this. We brought together some of the most brilliant, inspiring people in the world who are focused on achieving it. From the world's largest nonprofits, to famous chefs, to Super Bowl champions, to you at home. We're going to talk about the challenges in front of us, how we're rising to meet them and what you can do to help. Because after all, this is a podcast about hope and change.

C.D. Glin [00:02:05] My guest today, Chris Long, the former NFL player, and Kelly Parsons, the current CEO of WaterAid America ... they're on a mission to make sure water is treated as a basic human right.

C.D. Glin [00:02:16] If you're a fan of the NFL, you probably know what Chris Long could do on the field. The number two overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft and his leadership on defense helped earn him two Super Bowl rings, back to back, on two different teams. But I'm really impressed by what he has done off the field. He's a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner for his commitment to community. These days, he's the founder of The Waterboys, an organization dedicated to providing clean drinking water to a million people around the world.

C.D. Glin [00:02:48] So let's start with your passion for this space. So here's here's what I know about you, Chris. You, in high school ... football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball. So you've never been a waterboy. Like that, that's not been been your thing. But now you're committed to tackling, you know, thirst. And at the end of the day, that's a big mission, a big task. But what brought you to the passion for water?

Chris Long [00:03:11] Yeah, you know, I played 11 years in the NFL, and for most of those years I was doing work off the field, kind of on the low. You know, I wasn't broadcasting things. I wasn't, I didn't want to make it look like it was about me. You know, my wife and I committed to various causes and didn't make a big deal about it. But about halfway through my career, I kind of had this realization that I was leaving a lot of money for good on the table in not forming a foundation. And I had this idea kind of brewing in my head and didn't know which area I wanted to get into to change the world. And later that year, I think it was my fifth or sixth year in about 2012, I was set to go to East Africa for fun. I was going to go to Tanzania to do Kilimanjaro.

C.D. Glin [00:04:02] That's awesome.

Chris Long [00:04:03] Yeah, I had a head football coach, Jeff Fisher, who you probably familiar with. And Fisch.

C.D. Glin [00:04:08] From the Oiler days ...

Chris Long [00:04:09] Yea, from the Oiler days. Yea. So he had a picture on his desk of him climbing a mountain. And I remember meeting him for the first time when he got hired in St. Louis, and I said, "That looks cool. I'd like to do that or something like it." And he was like, "Yeah, it's Kilimanjaro, It's great." And I said, "I'd like to do that maybe this offseason." And he's like, "Well, we just signed you to a big deal. I like it if you probably waited."

C.D. Glin [00:04:31] Yea, don't go climbing a mountain, getting hurt.

Chris Long [00:04:32] Exactly. But then but then, you know, the way I am is I like to do it now. So I got a teammate of mine, James Hall, and we we went and climbed the mountain, we came down and we were hanging out at a bar celebrating the summit. And guy walks in ...

C.D. Glin [00:04:49] So, you made it?

Chris Long [00:04:50] Yeah, we made it. Yeah, Yeah, made it. It's like a seven day deal.

C.D. Glin [00:04:55] I was going to say, that altitude is not Mile High Stadium. Like, that's a different deal.

Chris Long [00:04:59] No, and it's funny because that's kind of how I triangulated in my head, you know, like, okay, this is like four, almost four Mile High Stadiums. Luckily, I don't have to play a football game up here. I just have to keep walking. And, you know, when we got down, we were just hanging out and somebody came in the bar and said my name and I was blown away because I was in Tanzania and I couldn't believe somebody knew me in this bar. It turned out to be Joe Buck, who's obviously an announcer for FOX and now Monday Night Football. But he's a guy I've known for a while because he worked with my dad, but also he's a St. Louis guy and that's where I was playing at the time. So I'm like, "Why are you here?" He was there on a water project and, you know, sparing you the rest of the details, he offered, you know, for us to come with him the next day. But we had to leave. And while I was there, it didn't go unnoticed to me that there was a big delta in the way we live and the way folks in Tanzania were living when it came to access to water. But at the time I hadn't, I had no idea that I was going to get involved in this work. And when I went home, I did my research. I'm pretty pragmatic about, you know, like if I want to make a difference, I want it to be a cause that is easily explained to people, you know, the funding, you know where it goes. Your dollar goes a long way. It got me thinking about the problems that Joe had outlined and that I was familiar with from my time in Tanzania. And I said, You know what? I think I want to go to back to Tanzania every year and commit to this work. We just been riding this ride the last almost decade, and here we are a length of time later and we've changed our goal to a million people served. We've served over 500,000 people. We shattered that first goal and, you know, sky's the limit. But it's such a big problem. We can never look up and say, hey, we've we've succeeded. We just have to keep changing the goal.

C.D. Glin [00:06:56] And keep climbing. Like Kili.

Chris Long [00:06:57] Yeah, exactly. Like Kili.

C.D. Glin [00:06:59]  That's powerful. So what I'm hearing is that you've never, you know, it was confirmed. You've never been a waterboy on the field, but you're a waterboy in the communities. You're serving, the community. You're giving them that water in communities. Because on the sideline people were giving you water that I know.

Chris Long [00:07:14] Yeah, mostly. When I was a kid, once I was a waterboy for a UVA basketball one time. But I don't think I was very good at it because I, I only lasted two games.

C.D. Glin [00:07:23] Yeah, they probably put the ball in your hand. You said I'm probably more, more suited for this.

Chris Long [00:07:26] I want to know the ball. Yeah.

C.D. Glin [00:07:28] You know, you mentioned UVA, you mentioned Joe Buck, you know, a fellow commentator like like your dad. And then I went on your website and and I was struck by the powerful phrase that says more than 70 professional athlete ambassadors, thousands of fans and one goal: ensuring access to clean water. I mean, that is so profound in terms of that first piece, though, because you have the ability to bring these professional athletes as ambassadors. How important is that, you know, to really bring the power of celebrity, the power of notoriety to this issue for you?

Chris Long [00:08:08] Well, it's like a collective impact model. And everybody plays a role. And, you know, down to the fan that's giving a couple of dollars a month, that's a very important role for us. I mean, it might not feel like it when you go to donate a couple bucks, but those are like the backbone of what we do. Our everyday donors all the way up to the people that are the megaphone folks. And I would count myself in that category. I mean, Waterboys, what we do is we shout it from the top of the mountains and we have implementing partners that help us get the job done and we want to get our hands dirty as well. But we know our role is to introduce the problem to people at large and supply solutions. And it's hard to introduce the problem in America when for the most part people don't realize it's a problem unless something like Flint happens. And you know, the root causes of problems when it comes to water insecurity all over the world are different. But when you get a glimpse into what that's like, I think people are confronted with the importance of this issue. And we can't solely rely on people learning the hard way in the United States. So, you know, as an athlete, I've seen the power of social media, online fundraising, our voices collectively and individually. And when I set out on this journey, I realized I'm one that knows my strengths and my weaknesses. And I think that's a really important thing to do, because I knew I couldn't alone turn the tide here in the sports landscape when it came to clean water awareness. And that's again, it's what I'm talking about with this collective impact model. Like everybody matters from these folks, you know, it's the 70 pro athletes that we've had involved to the, you know, now up near probably 100 veterans we've had involved in some capacity to, you know, every fan that donates to the website, to the people that show up at events, everybody has a really integral role.

C.D. Glin [00:10:17] You know, it's powerful that you're using I mean, you're using your platform for good and that you're doing it with others. It's not, it's not only, you know, the Chris Long show. It's bringing in others and that's really commendable and super important for that as you said, collective impact. But you also mentioned about the challenges here at home, challenges here in the U.S. in Flint. And we know about Jackson, Mississippi. You know, Waterboys is one of these platforms and an entity. But I'm also, I've learned that you have something else newer that's cooking that you've been doing around hometown H2O. Talk a little bit about going global, but also the local challenge that you're helping to address with water insecurity and access to safe water.

Chris Long [00:11:02] Well, there's 2 million people in the United States without access to clean water, and that number is pretty staggering, especially when if you ask most people walking down the street like, "Hey, do we have a water insecurity problem in this country?" They probably say no. And you have families that don't have operating wells. You have people plugged in to city water and the city water's contaminated, like there's a whole host of problems in the United States. You know, on Navajo Nation during the pandemic you talk about you have to wash your hands for 30 seconds. You remember you had to say your ABCs. You remember those days.

C.D. Glin [00:11:38] Happy birthday. Yeah. Yeah. Anything to keep people washing. And that's important, you talk talk about water being life, but sanitation, you know, is dignity. And it's also sometimes the difference between life and death, if you don't have proper sanitation.

Chris Long [00:11:53] And in a viral pandemic like that, you know, a place like on Navajo Nation, there's no running water in a lot of these these homes. Forget about drinking water. There's no there's no water coming out of the faucet. So how do you wash your hands? How do you stay hydrated? How do you, how does a kid in school learn when they're dehydrated? And it's a problem that affects so many schools in my home state and around the country. And Hometown H2O, we've gotten involved on on on a level where, you know, we'll do wells for individual families. We've done wells in Virginia, Texas, West Virginia, a bunch of different states, rural areas where people aren't getting the access that some others might be. So it's a whole different challenge in East Africa. But the commonality is that when people don't have access to clean water, they suffer.

C.D. Glin [00:12:46] It's really, really important that you're bringing that out. We talk in the U.S. a lot about, you know, the opportunities, the land of opportunity. But there are real challenges. And it's a crisis. It's a crisis. And you talk about 2 million people. That information is powerful. And now that people know, maybe there's others that will join your cause. And I know enough about you and your humility and your personality. But when I when I think about what you've done, a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Junior comes to mind and he said that "everyone can be great because everyone can serve." What I know about Chris Long is that greatness is in your DNA, you know, it's in your DNA, it's in Kyle's DNA, you know, from the great Howie Long. So being great is one thing, but where did this service come from? Where did that greatness in service come from? What instilled that in you? Chris Long.

Chris Long [00:13:37] Well, I mean, like, I think, number one, I had two parents who kind of thought that way. And just lucky to kind of watch them work. You know, my dad, growing up without much and juxtaposed to my upbringing where football gave him an opportunity to give me what he didn't have and knowing that, hey, my dad, all the success he's had, he's just been this earth mover of a guy and one or two wrong turns.

C.D. Glin [00:14:09] And a body mover too

Chris Long [00:14:10] And a body mover

C.D. Glin [00:14:12] You both know how to get the bodies out of the way.

Chris Long [00:14:13] Yeah. Yeah. Kyle knows how to move the most bodies, So, you know, just looking back at his journey and realizing that, like, this is the way life is, man, you know, people have bad luck, they have bad breaks. There's a lot of people don't have the same opportunities. And for my dad, he, if one or two little wrong turns on the road, his safety net wasn't like mine and he easily could have been living a whole different life and the world would be a different place. Now on a small scale because there's so many damn great people that walk this planet. But my dad has done a lot of awesome stuff and my mom, you know, has been instrumental in the work that they've done with the Boys and Girls Club here locally. We kind of came up working, my dad was a Boys and Girls Club kid, came up working in that area. So for me it was just more like, this is what you do. I really do believe that whether it's your time, whether it's your your money, you've been given a lot. You have an opportunity to serve. You should serve. And I've never done it thinking I was special for doing it. I just do it because I think this is the bare minimum. I think we we should all, if we're out there in front of millions of people and we have an opportunity to galvanize people to do something good. You should. And a perfect example was like in Philly when I was going to donate a bunch of money for educational equity, my second to last year, I thought about doing it kind of like privately. But I realized that, you know, I've got these people that I just spoke of that kind of hang on our every word that are big football fans. And that's a powerful tool. And if I don't, one, if I don't if I don't donate money or time, I'm missing out and, you know, like I'm not helping. But two, if I don't invite those people that are our most powerful resource, the fans, into the fight, we're leaving a lot of money on the table. And that proved to be the case because I publicized the campaign we did, and they doubled our investment.

C.D. Glin [00:16:20] Love it. Everything counts. Charity begins at home. You're doing it global, you're doing it local. And I don't want it to be lost. You kind of alluded to, "I gave a bunch of money to charity in 2017." No, no, no. Let's talk about what you really did. It was a bunch of money in that it was your entire salary. You know, in, I think it was like around your 32nd birthday. Itwas like a birthday gift from Chris Long.

Chris Long [00:16:48] Yeah, it was around that, yea.

C.D. Glin [00:16:50] No, I love it. You know, I'm so grateful to have met a former NFL superstar who's crazy about making a difference. Great to meet you, Chris.

Chris Long [00:16:58] Great to meet you as well. It I appreciate you all having me on.

C.D. Glin [00:17:03] Joining me now is Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America AND a fellow Return Peace Corps Volunteer. Yes, it was the toughest job we’ve ever loved.

Kelly, it's really, really great to meet you. And I cannot tell you how long overdue this is. But before we go deeper into programmatic work, I really want to know the origin story of Kelly Parsons. I want to start where hopefully a lot of it started or maybe a lot of it started. And that's with you joining the Peace Corps like I did as well.

Kelly Parsons [00:17:24] Yeah, that's that's great. And I'm so glad to know we have that in common, that that foundational principle and then foundational experience that Peace Corps is, I think, going all the way back. I grew up in a military family. I traveled a lot internationally.

C.D. Glin [00:17:41] Wait, wait. Kelly Stop, Stop. Why are you like my sister from another mister? Like, I grew up in a military family as well. I joined the Peace Corps. You know, I actually have, and I'll tell you this later, I actually worked for a water aid for a little while. I'm like, "Who is this woman and how have we not talked before?" Yeah, my dad was in the Air Force. I grew up in a military family as well.

Kelly Parsons [00:18:01] Got it. Got it. I am a Navy brat, but it's all. It's all there. And so. So you see different places and different experiences, right? You see the world through those eyes. And I saw kind of the U.S. presence abroad through a very specific lens, but I also saw a lot of poverty. And it caused me to question my place in the earth and my purpose and the ways in which we could make a difference. And so coming out of of college, I looked for what was next. All of my siblings went military and I said, I'm kind of going the opposite direction and joined the Peace Corps. I think they were all really happy and said, "Hey, that fits you a lot better, Kelly." And had just a tremendous life changing experience in Guatemala.

C.D. Glin [00:18:50] What's interesting I'd like to comment on a little bit is even my own story very similarly but went to Peace Corps, was at Peace Corps in South Africa, went to Peace Corps headquarters, worked there for five years, and then ended up moving to Nigeria, where I was a senior consultant for WaterAid Nigeria. And what I worked on was WaterAid literally in the early 2000 was community led total sanitation, where this was sort of focus ... Yeah, I knew you're going to, like I was hoping you would, you would smile at that because I know the lingo.

Kelly Parsons [00:19:23] Yeah, yes, yeah, CLTS. That's right.

C.D. Glin [00:19:25]  CLTS, I'm telling you, this is more than 20 years ago or about 20 years ago, working at the community level.

Kelly Parsons [00:19:31] That's right.

C.D. Glin [00:19:32] I can definitely relate. And I know you're probably in what some would call your dream job to some extent right now, since it has been something that you've worked on for so long. Talk a little bit about that passion and and how, you know, being in the role you are in now, how you're at the forefront of something that's so critical. Safe water is a critical component to solving hunger around the world. You know, going with with current affairs, with climate change. I mean, you're you're in every conversation because of your leadership at WaterAid.

Kelly Parsons [00:20:03] That's right. That's right. So, look, you said it C.D., water touches everything and everyone on the planet. And without water, there's no food. There's no security. When you talked about climate change in the you know, how that's playing out in water and in the water space. Climate change hits people first and foremost through the water cycle. Right? Through droughts and floods and the vicious cycling between those that we're seeing play out, particularly across sub-Saharan Africa. And so the human face of climate change is water.

C.D. Glin [00:20:42] That's powerful. I don't want that to be lost. I don't want that to be lost, Kelly. Because this is, you know, a platform for you to get a message out and the human face of climate change being water is a really important point that I don't think should be missed. I mean, repeat that or just, you know, double click on that.

Kelly Parsons [00:20:59] I think we, look, we all need to be doing all we can to to mitigate the effects of climate change. And so I'm all for mitigation. But I also think that we need to put our realist hats on and expect a need to really embrace some key adaptation features. And I think that those needs are going to focus largely on water and its connection to food security and to livelihoods. And so we talk about the water cycle, so floods, rains, irrigation, evaporation and we know that climate change disrupts those all around the world, but in particular in those very stressed areas of the world. It's making the circumstances much more difficult for communities, for families and for individuals to find the clean, safe water that they need in a sustainable fashion and to feed themselves at the same time.

C.D. Glin [00:21:58] It's fascinating and so important, the intersectionality of climate, water and food. And I spend a lot of time talking about a sustainable food system, a regenerative food system, an inclusive food system. You know, a huge piece of the puzzle is, of the water puzzle, is this food-water nexus ... Is agriculture. And in many parts of the world, more than 50% of fresh water usage is for agriculture. And creating access to safe water and hygiene is critical is a critical part of creating this resilient, sustainable, inclusive food system.

Kelly Parsons [00:22:31] Listen, agriculture is about people and not just crops. And so we talked about clean water as needed, close to homes and farms for both growing and washing the food, but also for farmers and their families to drink, wash their hands, keep their livestock healthy. And so even if a family has enough food to eat but can't wash their hands before preparing it, they're going to get sick. And so that connection to thinking about agriculture and the communities that are agrarian and involved in the production and delivery of the food we all eat all over the world is at its essence that that water runs through that whole chain, right? And so and a great example is our co-work with the potato farmers in India, right? And this has been a long standing project with WaterAid and PepsiCo where we're working to provide these farmers with sustainable access to clean water and toilets, not just at work where they do their farming, but also at homes in the schools and in the health centers. And we work with these same farmers and the district agricultural offices to increase the awareness of these sustainable farming practices. And they're linked to water conservation. So that's a big piece of that sustainability piece. How the how these farmers in their communities will carry it forward is via some of the systems that we're creating together.

C.D. Glin [00:24:01] I love the point that you're making that agriculture is about people, not just about the crops and that, you know, water runs through through both of those and is central to both of those. I mentioned to you I was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa and even Mandela, during the time of Nelson Mandela, and he was quoted as saying, you know, "No water, no future." And so that literally is the quintessential point around water is life. And I think people hear that, but it doesn't resonate. And you mentioned some of the disconnects with climate change and other things. But Kelly, your background, part of your background not only in economics but also in social marketing. So you know how to make things cool, important, but also have a business focus on that same note in terms of what more can be done, how can others get involved? What are the sort of first steps that people can take to help create this world that you're envisioning. This world that you're at the helm of creating. A world where everyone can have clean, safe drinking water and water, period, for life and dignity through sanitation.

Kelly Parsons [00:25:10] I'm going to try to talk about this on three levels. So individuals listening, think about water in your daily lives and never take it for granted. It's not free and it's not unlimited. And so being mindful of our water footprint at home and in what we buy and consume, have these discussions around the dinner table. It's important. And educate yourself about the water crisis and about the link between water and global development.

Kelly Parsons [00:25:40] For businesses. I want to recognize clean water is not an expense, it's an investment. And it has a ripple effect far beyond the bottom line. So we did a fantastic pilot program over the last couple of years working with a number of large global corporations, and we found that for every dollar a corporation invested in community water, sanitation and hygiene, they got a return of $5. This is a high ROI investment for water. It strengthens the health and well-being of a company's workforce. It cuts medical and sick pay costs. It boosts staff motivation and productivity. And it generates that substantial return on investment. So that's at the business level.

Kelly Parsons [00:26:29] And then at the kind of macro level, when we think about the world banks or the ministers of finance who meet so often in our in our city that we share, you know, they need to understand that that universal access to clean water, toilets and hygiene will boost the global economy by trillions of dollars, literally. So we did some work with one of McKinsey's data units called Vivid Economics. And the annualized net benefit, so every year, if we were able to get basic water for everyone around the world, we could unlock $37 billion of GDP growth and impact. Basic sanitation, $65 billion a year freed up from the global system and contributing to our overall global well-being. So I want ministers of finance, I want economists all over the world to take another look at the importance of clean water, sanitation and hygiene, because it just can't be you know, it just can't be matched out there. So those are the three levels that I think of.

C.D. Glin [00:27:41] I love it. New levels. We talk about being on a journey to zero hunger, but that journey starts with taking a gulp of water and being able to wash our hands and stay hygienic along the way. So, I mean, you've been, it's been great to get to know you and, Kelly, I just you know, I'm grateful for the partnership and collaboration that the PepsiCo Foundation has with you. Thanks, Kelly.

Kelly Parsons [00:28:04] Thank you, C.D.

C.D. Glin [00:28:07] Let's end with the segment I like to call Brain Food. What a pleasure to speak to Kelly and Chris. They're both doing remarkable work. And there's a common thread here, I think. Determination, passion and commitment to community. Obviously, for Chris, it means winning two Super Bowl rings, but it also means starting his own nonprofit foundation. For Kelly, look, she's a boss, she's a CEO, but her dream is truly coming to life with her ability to live her purpose. She's definitely winning at that.

C.D. Glin [00:28:37] Let's all remember to celebrate our wins, the ones everyone can see and the ones that you can feel. The journey isn't easy, but it's worth it. Remember that. We need your winning spirit on this journey to zero hunger.

C.D. Glin [00:28:50] If you want to hear more from Chris, you should check out his podcast "Greenlight with Chris Long." And you can learn more about Kelly's work at WaterAid.org.

C.D. Glin [00:29:00] I'm C.D. Glin. Thanks also to you for listening and for joining the Journey to Zero Hunger. There's so much you can do to help end hunger by 2030 and you can get started today, right now. Visit join food for good dot com. That's Join food for good dot com.

Journey to Zero Hunger is produced by Jacent Jackson, Vincent Bozek, Dave Beasing, Lucie Blankenship and Michelle Rice. Edited by Will Pyle.

If this podcast has been informative or inspiring, show it some love. Give it a rating and review to help spread the word, and subscribe or follow Journey to Zero Hunger - wherever you listen to podcasts.

About the PepsiCo Foundation 

The PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, invests in the essential elements of a sustainable food system with a mission to support thriving communities. Working with non-profits and experts around the globe, we're focused on helping communities obtain access to food security, safe water and economic opportunity. We strive for tangible impact in the places where we live and work—collaborating with industry peers, local and international organizations, and our employees to affect large-scale change on the issues that matter to us and are of global importance. 

WaterAid is an international nonprofit working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere within a generation. WaterAid works in more than 30 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water, 28 million people with decent toilets and 26 million people with good hygiene.


  • 750 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
  • Two billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes. 

Every $2 invested in water and toilets returns an average of $8 in increased productivity.

Further resources