New Delhi
1.34 billion

The COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent crisis in India. Handwashing is a key defence against coronavirus, but 94 million Indians still live without a source of clean water.

To tackle spread of the disease, we are assisting in national media campaigns showing people how to protect their health through good hygiene. We have also created a free information hub, infographic posters and social media resources for our partners and the public to use.

Our response to COVID-19 in India

More than a billion people call India home. This vast population is spread across deserts and deltas, green valleys and rocky mountains, remote villages and mega-cities. Reaching everyone with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene is a huge challenge.

That hasn’t stopped us making real progress. In the last year, we’ve helped 374,000 people get decent toilets and 466,000 people get clean water. The Indian Government’s ‘Clean India’ campaign has a target of no-one going to the toilet in the open by the end of 2019. Toilets are front page news and change is happening.

But while many thrive in the world’s second fastest-growing economy, millions are being left behind.

Nearly half the population currently has no choice but to go to the toilet in rivers and fields, beside train tracks or down alleyways. Every day, at least 166 children under five die because of diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. It is particularly tough to get toilets and water to people living in India’s rapidly expanding slums.

Together, we can make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a normal part of everyday life for everyone in India.

We give people the knowledge and confidence to demand their rights. We support the Government to integrate water, toilets and hygiene into health, nutrition and disaster strategies, building systems that last.

And we make sure services meet the specific needs of women, children and disabled people so that no one is left behind.

people don't have clean water.

Let's change that for the better.

people don't have a decent toilet.

Over half the people in India.

children under 5 die each year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

A tale of clean cities

Uncontrolled urbanisation and proliferation of slums makes development of urban sanitation a big challenge. This study looks at progress on sanitation made in three cities, including Visakhapatnam in India.

WaterAid/ Adam Ferguson

A sanitation superhero

Eliza Powell
There are many changes. The biggest change is that the girls, our daughters, don’t have to go far away. When they used to go far away, people in their cars would stop and stare, and sometimes call or approach them.
Chanda, community toilet caretaker

Chanda is a caretaker for her community’s toilet block in Delhi. It’s her job to make sure the toilets are clean and working and to help her neighbours use them properly.

People in Chanda’s district used to have no decent toilets, forcing them to go outside, sometimes far from home. This put the community at risk of disease, and women and girls at risk of harassment.

“There are many changes,” Chanda told us. “The biggest change is that the girls, our daughters, don’t have to go far away. When they used to go far away, people in their cars would stop and stare, and sometimes call or approach them.”

Chanda is also part of a community group that gets together and talks to neighbours about safe sanitation and good hygiene.

She takes immense pride in her work: “I look after the public now. I like it a lot and I will continue to do this until I have my last breath.”

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