The clean water crisis

Every problem has a solution. Learn about our work to end the water crisis and how you can help

Water is a necessity for and yet it remains a luxury to many people around the world.

Every person needs a sustainable supply of clean water: for drinking, washing, cooking and cleaning. It is a basic human right and there are still 2.2 billion people that do not have a safe supply of clean water.

To date, governments, institutions and service providers around the world haven’t done enough to ensure clean water reaches the poorest and most marginalized people leaving millions of people underserved.

In many countries, taps, wells and pipes delivering clean water simply do not exist and even where they do, water supply services are often not affordable or accessible, or aren’t designed to last.

Right now:

don’t have safe water.

WHO/UNICEF (2023). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: special focus on gender.

don’t have reliable, clean water.

WHO/UNICEF (2022). Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in schools: 2000-2021 data update.

the number of diarrheal deaths would be

WHO (2023). Burden of disease attributable to unsafe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene: 2019 update.

What we've done together

Since 1981 we've reached more than  with clean water.

Together, we work with communities to set up practical and sustainable water projects that meet their needs. Hardware, such as taps and rainwater harvesting tanks are always backed up by training on maintenance and management, making sure that the health benefits of clean water are maximized. To ensure sustainability we use technologies that are low-cost, appropriate to the local area, and can be easily maintained by the communities who use them.

We also work with local partners to ensure capacity and skills are developed at a local level. Local partners include:

  • Local non-government organizations (NGOs)

  • Local and national government departments

  • Private utility companies

We invest in local partner organizations to enable them to deliver lasting changes for their communities. We typically provide financial support, training and technical advice, as well as help with planning, budgeting and organizational development. As partners grow stronger, they become less reliant on WaterAid's technical and financial support and can seek funds from other sources. When this happens, we often start working with newer or less well-established partners, with the cycle of training and development starting again.

Image: WaterAid/Tom Greenwood

From advocacy to engineering, we cover a lot of ground, but the fundamentals of our work are simple:

Clean water infrastructure means people can access clean, running water 365 days a year.

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Toilets matter more than you might think. Sanitation is fundamental for the dignity and health of a community.

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Hygiene is the final piece of the puzzle. Good hygiene helps people stay healthier, it prevents the spread of diseases and allows people to flourish.

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