1. Water, toilets and hygiene are a human right

Extreme poverty cannot end until clean water, toilets and hygiene are a normal part of daily life for everyone, everywhere. Yet 703 million people in the world – almost one in ten – don’t have clean water close to home, and 1.5 billion people – almost one in five – don’t have a decent toilet of their own. And climate change is making the situation worse. 

Women in particular waste precious time walking long distances to collect dirty water. Girls drop out of school because there are no private toilets to manage their periods. And more than 273,000 children under the age of five die every year because of diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

We may be called WaterAid, but our focus is resolutely on all three essentials: clean water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene.

2. There's no 'one-size-fits-all' solution

There is no blanket solution to helping people get clean water and toilets. A rural community suffering from drought and poor infrastructure will face very different obstacles to an urban community vulnerable to flooding.

Natural water sources like rivers can be filthy – full of waste and parasites that spread diseases like cholera. They can dry up too, so moving whole communities closer to dirty, unreliable sources of water isn’t the answer.

Image: WaterAid/Ahmed Jallanzo

That’s why we tap into groundwater, drill wells and harvest rainwater to bring clean water to where people live, work and go to school – whether that's in a rural community or an urban dwelling.


3. Toilets and hygiene save lives

Globally, almost one in five people don’t have a decent toilet of their own, and 1 in 20 have no choice but to go outside – increasing the risk of the spread of deadly diseases such as diarrhoea. 

When I have to defecate in a field it makes me feel so dirty and bad. I also feel scared there are lots of snakes out there, big snakes and they are so poisonous.
Manisha, 10, Nepal

But politicians rarely want to talk about where people do their business, let alone spend money on toilets. And with such limited funding, not enough is spent on educating people about the importance of using them. 

When we install decent toilets we also promote good hygiene – helping people stay clean and healthy. We show governments the difference this makes to whole communities: children don’t miss school with stomach ache or die from diarrhoea and girls can manage their periods privately and safely.

4. Together, we can help transform lives 

We make a bigger impact because we bring people together, actively encouraging collaboration so that many voices can be heard and ideas can spread. Together we achieve so much more.

We work together with partners to assess the local situation, before designing and delivering relevant, practical solutions based on our shared experience and evidence.

And to make lasting change happen on a massive scale we:

  • Convince governments to change laws

  • Link policy makers with people on the ground

  • Change attitudes and behaviours

  • Pool knowledge and resources

  • Rally support from people and organisations around the world

Today is the best day of my life here. Having water nearby allows me to do and work on other things.
17-year-old Tahiry celebrates after clean water arrives in her village in Madagascar.

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Facts and statistics

Get up to date on the facts and statistics behind access to water and sanitation.