Water, sanitation and hygiene for a lifetime

When a community gets clean water for the first time, it creates a powerful ripple effect, saving lives and improving people’s health, education and livelihoods. Water is just the beginning.

In my work and in my home country, Malawi, I see how clean water and women’s health go hand in hand.

Women are the custodians of water, so we suffer most if it is dirty. We collect water, wash with it, cook with it, and ensure others get it, too. If the water is bad, we are the ones most at risk of getting ill.

As WaterAid’s Global Advocacy Advisor for Health, I work with communities to identify the challenges they face, and then influence decision makers to help solve them. Right now, my passion is to get clean water in every health facility worldwide.

All over the world, women spend a lot of time in healthcare settings because they give birth or care for sick family members. We also make up the majority of the world’s health workers. It means women are particularly exposed to serious infection if there is a lack of clean water.

One woman in south Malawi told me that when she was heavily pregnant she had to go to the toilet at night in the bush because the clinic’s toilets were overflowing. It’s an awful situation.

But with help from supporters like you, this is changing.

More women can give birth safely — thanks to you
Portrait of Annie Msosa, Health Advocacy Advisor | WaterAid
Annie Msosa, Health Advocacy Advisor

With your support, over the past year, WaterAid and partners reached more than two million people in health centers with clean water, handwashing facilities and decent toilets. It means that when women give birth, they can take a shower and keep clean. They can go to the toilet in private, and no longer have to expose themselves or risk infection. It’s a transformation.

I act for change because I want my children, my family and my community to live in a world where everyone has clean water and a chance at a healthy life. I want to look back and say I made an impact on people’s lives. I want to fight for justice. I hope you feel the same, too.

I know that lasting change takes time and effort. Getting clean water to everyone, everywhere is not a simple fix. But together, we can challenge the way things work, and ensure women and girls everywhere can stay healthy and thrive.

With gratitude,

Annie Msosa
Health Advocacy Advisor

Excitable WaterAid staff at the UNC Water Conference 2023 | WaterAid
Image: WaterAid

The 2023 U.N. Water Conference

In March 2023, thousands of people gathered in New York for the U.N. Water Conference–the first meeting of its kind in nearly half a century. The message? Progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation is woefully off-track.

WaterAid’s global delegation of more than 40 people participated in events, sharing lived experience and expertise gathered from more than four decades of working in the water sector. We partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for an official side event. WaterAid America CEO Kelly Parsons moderated, with testimony focused on the cross-sectoral nature of water, sanitation and hygiene and its implications for food security, climate resilience and global health.

The week-long conference resulted in more than 700 commitments from local and national governments, NGOs and the private sector, serving as recognition of the global importance of water, sanitation and hygiene.

Historic legislation for healthcare facilities

We all know that healthcare centers require clean water, sanitation and hygiene. But in the least- developed countries, nearly half of health facilities have no water access, 68% lack basic hygiene resources like soap and 79% have no sanitation services.

In September 2023, WaterAid celebrated the introduction of the “Global WASH in Healthcare Facilities Act” in Congress by Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Darin LaHood (R- IL). This bi-partisan legislation is a step toward ensuring that every physician and midwife can turn on a tap to wash their hands, every janitor has water and soap to clean, and every new mother can bathe with dignity, no matter where they live. “We are introducing legislation that impacts the lives of billions around the world, as well as our collective global health and economic security,” the Representatives said. “We look forward to our bill becoming law.”

→ Read the press release

Foundations for the future

A remote mountain community in Nepal is getting clean water, staying healthy and building a base for a brighter tomorrow – with your support.

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The Dolakha region is home to one of Nepal’s most marginalized ethnic groups, the Thami hill tribe, who are often overlooked by development projects. Two years ago, they were hit by a devastating mudslide that washed away water pipes, tanks and taps. They had to walk for miles along dangerous, steep mountain paths to collect water – leaving no time to earn a living or go to school.

With your help, we worked alongside communities and local partners in Dolakha and built 17 gravity flow water supply systems. This low-cost method uses the pressure of gravity to pipe clean water from reliable springs up in the mountains.

Communities in Dolakha have placed water tanks, pipes and toilets away from areas vulnerable to landslides, and have further protected their supply with gabion walls, which are stacks of wire mesh baskets filled with rocks. These walls are designed to withstand landslides and heavy rainfall, protecting the water supply from future natural disasters.

These climate-resilient solutions have reached more than 8,000 people including 160 households and two schools.

A force of nature

Community champion Pabi Maya has led the way to bring clean water to people’s homes.

As chairperson of the water system, Pabi Maya helped to coordinate the construction and identify the most disaster-prone areas to avoid. She also learned how to maintain the supply, to ensure it keeps flowing for the next generation.

“I am so glad to hear people say that now they have clean drinking water running from their taps in their houses, their life is way more comfortable,” she says. It means Pabi Maya and her community can focus on improving their lives, so they are better prepared for a changing climate.

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I don’t need to worry about water anymore. People in the community are happy and healthy.
Pabi Maya, Dolakha, Nepal

Wonderful waste

How a community in Tanzania is recycling human waste to stop the spread of disease and stay strong for the future

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Over the last 10 years, entrepreneur, farmer and parent Hawa Mhando (slide 1, in the carousel below) has seen how the climate has changed, with increasingly frequent floods near her home in low-lying Temeke District (slide 2), the most populated area in Dar es Salaam.

“During the flooding (slide 3), pit latrines can overflow and flow to the river,” she says. “So if we use the water from the river, we get a disease like cholera and diarrhea.” Floods also wash away her rice crops, leaving her with nothing to sell.

Your support has helped to provide waste disposal workers like Juma Ng’ombo (slide 4) with a ‘Gulper’ hand pump to empty latrines and reduce the risk of disease when it floods. Fellow worker Julius Chisengo (slide 5) then transports the waste in his ‘bajaj’ motorcycle, which can navigate the narrow streets.

He deposits the waste in small treatment plants (slide 6) where it is turned into biogas for cooking, water for irrigation (slide 7) and fertilizer so Hawa can grow nutritious food for her daughters and earn an income too.

Your impact around the world

→ Where we work

T. with his best friends, washing their faces and drinking water at the handwashing station of their school sanitation block, in the Manjakandriana commune of Madagascar
Image: WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

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