WaterAid launches advocacy program to deliver sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services to African healthcare facilities

Posted by
Jeff Greene
13 September 2022
Individuals, Employees and companies, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, Campaigns, Fundraising resources, Water, Partnership, Education, Hygiene, Girls and women, Health, Maternal health
Midwife Florence Anyoka holds baby Nathanial, aged two years, at the Busongo Community Health Centre, Busongo Community, Kassena Nankana West District, Upper East Region, Ghana. February 2019
Image: WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

September 13, 2022 (New York, NY)—Today WaterAid announced the launch of a one-year program to advocate and inform policy discussion for improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) in healthcare facilities in Africa through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The $1.49 million grant focuses on Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda and addresses challenges preventing frontline healthcare workers, patients and surrounding communities from accessing clean water, handwashing facilities and decent toilets that lead to unsafe working conditions, increased disease spread and greater health risk for mothers and newborns. The result will be strengthened healthcare systems and accelerated, reliable access to safer water that is affordable, inclusive and sustainable.

Key activities include:

  • Building evidence of the links between clean water, sanitation and hygiene and their impact on healthcare facilities that will inform policy decisions at the local, regional and national levels.
  • Mobilizing and building the capacity of civil society champions to advocate for clean water, sanitation and hygiene access, including women’s right groups, healthcare coalitions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and local community leaders.
  • Training and supporting local health officials and government leaders to collect and monitor data, budget, and develop and implement sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene plans.
  • Engaging with US and global policymakers, donors and healthcare stakeholders to build awareness and support for sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene access. 
We know that maintaining access to clean water in healthcare facilities requires an individualized approach, and that advocacy work connecting community input with decision makers at every level is essential. This program is an important step forward for our impactful safe water work in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda, creating solutions that will sustain quality services for one million people in low-income households, health facilities, and schools in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
Peter Laugharn, President and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Healthcare facilities in many African countries still suffer from a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene, endangering patients and frontline workers as well as the overall health and well-being of their local communities. In Ethiopia, only 34% of healthcare facilities have a clean water source on-site, and only 61% have adequate sanitation facilities. And in Uganda, 15% of patients develop one or more infections during their hospital stays due to inadequate clean water and hygiene conditions.

Since 2019, the response to COVID-19 and preparation for the next global pandemic has elevated the importance of clean water in healthcare facilities worldwide, but it has not translated into the financial and political will needed to realize national and local change. 

The most sustainable way to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene to essential healthcare workers and the communities they serve is to engage directly with policy makers at all levels of government. We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Hilton Foundation, uniting decision makers from the US and Africa and solving the water crisis together.
Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America

This grant builds on the success and lessons-learned from previous multi-year partnerships between WaterAid and the Hilton Foundation, including delivering clean water, sanitation and hygiene to healthcare facilities in Mali that improve quality of care for mothers and newborns. It is a foundational project delivering on the long-term vision of WaterAid’s work by linking the experience of frontline healthcare workers, WaterAid’s technical expertise, and the leadership of local, regional and national officials and organizations. 

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation   

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $8.5 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2.4 billion, $339 million worldwide in 2021. 

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.

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