Sources: Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Water and sanitation are globally recognized as fundamental human rights [1]. Yet, many people around the world do not have access to safe water and sanitation resources [2]. The lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities can have a disastrous effect on the health and well-being of people[1]. In many regions, unsafe water facilities lead to high mortality rates, obstacles to education and a lack of agency [3-5]. In addition, unsafe drinking water can contribute to the spread of diarrhoea, which is the leading cause of mortality around the world [6,7].

Facts and Figures

  • Hygiene promotion is the most cost-effective health intervention [11].

  • Unsafe drinking water, inadequate water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation services contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases [8]. 

  • Globally, 600 million children do not have a basic sanitation service at school [16].

  • Over half of the global population lack access to safe sanitation [9]. 
  • Almost half of the schools in the world do not have handwashing facilities with soap and water [10].

  • 3 billion people around the world lack basic handwashing facilities at home [9].

WASH is the collective term for water, sanitation and hygiene. In the charitable sector, these three issues are grouped together to represent a growing area of focus, recognizing the three are dependent on one another [12]. Research has shown that the most effective solution is the development of WASH infrastructure in order to increase access to WASH programmes for vulnerable communities [13]. These programs also need to emphasize teaching basic sanitation and hygiene to communities and continuously monitor and evaluate progress [14,15].


  1. United Nations - Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (link)  

  2. Obstacles to WASH  (report)

  3. United Nations - Mortality rate attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene (unsafe WASH services) (link)

  4. Gender Differences Related to WASH in Schools and Educational Efficiency (research paper

  5. Understanding empowerment in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH): a scoping review (research report

  6. Water, sanitation and hygiene for the prevention of diarrhoea (research paper

  7. Diarrhoea Remains Leading Cause of Global Mortality and Morbidity (link

  8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Global WASH Fast Facts (link

  9. WHO & Unicef - wash data (link

  10. United Nations - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (link

  11. Worldbank - Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (report

  12. Unicef - About WASH (link

  13. Handbook on Water Security - Chapter 12: Human security and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene: exploring the drivers and nexus (book

  14. Sustainable Development Goals - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for all Initiative (link

  15. A long way to go – Estimates of combined water, sanitation and hygiene coverage for 25 sub-Saharan African countries (research paper)