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.

With gratitude from Malawi

Image: WaterAid

This year, the whole world has seen how handwashing is a crucial first line of defense against disease. But in my country, Malawi, basic hygiene is impossible for the one in three people who don’t have access to clean water. That’s why, when COVID-19 hit, it was scary.

Because of you, we were able to respond quickly. We shared hygiene messages with millions of people and installed free handwashing stations to help save lives.

I also saw the life-saving impact of the long-term work your support makes possible. In recent years, we’ve installed running water in hospitals so doctors and nurses can wash their hands, keeping them and their patients safe. (For more, read nurse Mary’s story on the next page.)

Work like this is made possible by your contributions - so thank you.

—Dennis Lupenga, communications officer, WaterAid Malawi

The Ripple Effect - quote pull out | WaterAid
Dennis Lupenga, VftF officer from Malawi, at the World Water Day 'thank you' event at British Library for major donors and trusts, London, UK, March 2019.
Image: WaterAid/Oliver Dixon
Image: WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

Mary Khobiri knows what it is like to lead a new mother on the 45-minute walk to the nearest river shortly after giving birth at her clinic.

“Some women would collapse along the way,” recalls Mary, a nurse and midwife at Mangamba Health Center in Malawi. Her clinic serves 30,000 patients each month.

“As a medical practitioner, I felt sad for them,” she says. “But there was no running water at the health facility. It was the only way they could wash themselves.”

Without clean water, it was a challenge to sterilize the medical instruments. Women were at greater risk of infections like sepsis.

“It was a huge health risk,” says Mary.

Because of your support, Mary’s health center now has running water inside the maternity ward. It’s easy for Mary to wash her hands before and after seeing patients.

And no more 45-minute walks are needed.

“Our patients can clean themselves after giving birth right here at the health facility. They no longer have to risk their lives and lose dignity by walking long distances.”

Mary has seen a drastic reduction in the number of cases of sepsis. “Personally, I feel good to work here having clean water," she says. "It has brought confidence in my work. Lives are saved.”

Last year, your support helped WaterAid provide clean water for 149 healthcare facilities like Mary’s, reaching 1,149,000 patients and staff worldwide.

Personally, I feel good to work here having clean water. It has brought confidence in my line of work. Lives are saved.
Mary Khobiri, nurse and midwife

Our COVID-19 rapid response work

Your continued support meant we were perfectly placed to respond quickly and help stop the spread of the virus. Here’s a snapshot of what you made possible.



By the numbers

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, WaterAid worked with more than 5,000 communities—60 percent more than last year—to improve access to water, sanitation and handwashing services.


Image: WaterAid/ Drik Picture Library Limited/ Farzana Hossen

Your impact at the community level

385,000 people
now have clean water.

700,000 people
with decent toilets.

1,503,000 people can wash their hands.

Hospitals and clinics

Image: WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

Hospitals and clinics

1,238,000 people
reached with clean water.

1,080,000 people
now have decent toilets.

991,000 people
can wash their hands.


Image: WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry

Your support in schools

206,000 children
now have clean water at school.

182,000 children
have decent toilets at school.

695,000 children
can now wash their hands at school.

A special thank you

We cannot accomplish this work without you. Thanks to your support, we reached vulnerable people around the world with lifesaving services and education. You help us bring our work to scale to reach millions and create long-term progress. Thanks to your ongoing support, we were able to respond quickly to help stop COVID-19 from spreading. We won’t stop until everyone, everywhere has access to water, sanitation and hygiene, for good. 

Since 1981, we have reached 26.4 million people with water

We are international nonprofit organization and work in 33 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people with clean water, decent toilets and hygiene education.

Image: WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala