Water and sanitation

Help improve access to safe, sustainable drinking water and sanitation facilities, and improve hygiene practices.

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What we're doing

World Vision operates the largest privately funded rural water, sanitation and hygiene program in the world. We reach one new person with clean water every 10 seconds.

Our goal

Bring clean water and sanitation to almost 20 million people in 36 countries by 2020, until we reach everyone, everywhere we work by 2030.

Water is life's essential ingredient

We all need clean, fresh water to drink. We all need sanitary conditions so that human waste is safely disposed. Yet, water and sanitation facilities are often scarce or unreliable in many communities around the world.

This has a dire impact on the health of children and families. Poor water and sanitation is the leading cause of diarrhoea, which is the second biggest cause of death among children under five, killing 760,000 each year. 

As well as directly causing death, poor water and sanitation can severely erode health and wellbeing gains made by food and nutrition programs. According to the United Nations World Health Organization (2014), every dollar invested in water and sanitation results in a $4.30 return in the form of reduced healthcare costs.

Illness and time spent collecting water also reduces school attendance and adults’ capacity to work and earn income. A 2012 World Bank study of 18 African countries found they lose 1-2.5 percent of GDP – around US$5.5 billion – every year due to poor sanitation.

844 million

people lack access to safe water

while 2.5 billion people live without improved sanitation.

80 percent

of childhood disease

is related in some way to unsafe drinking water, inadequate hygiene and poor sanitation.

272 million

school days

are lost each year due to water-related diseases.

Turn the tide on the world’s water problems

With your support, World Vision can provide equitable access to the necessary “hardware”, including wells, boreholes, water tanks, toilets, taps and sewage infrastructure.

However in many instances, without an informed and motivated community to maintain them, new facilities go unused and eventually break down. Likewise, improvements only go so far unless they’re combined with effective hygiene behaviours.

To better enable long-term success, your support also helps us build the equally important “software”, promoting better hygiene and empowering communities with the knowledge and motivation to advocate for, build and maintain facilities and infrastructure.

Help provide clean water Help a community install borehole pumps, pipes or other water points to provide clean water for drinking, cooking and washing.

Top left: Violet has a reason to celebrate thanks to a new borehole built by World Vision in her village in Zambia. Top right: A new water tank means these children in Myanmar have clean water all year round. Bottom left: These school children in Cambodia have learnt about good hygiene practices, like washing hands with soap. Bottom right: Testing water for arsenic in Myanmar.

Our approach to water, sanitation and hygiene

 Create a clean start to set children up for life 

The first 1,000 days of life are critical to children’s health, and water, sanitation and hygiene is a vital part of this. We integrate our work with maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition and early childhood development – far more effective than addressing any of these areas in isolation.

Provide flow-on benefits for disadvantaged groups 

Inaccessibility to water and sanitation is a major reason why children with disabilities drop out of school. We provide solutions that are accessible, affordable and dignified, increasing their opportunities for education, employment and self-sufficiency. 

Wash away barriers for women and girls

When girls are unable to manage menstrual hygiene, it affects their education, health and overall wellbeing. In Ethiopia for example, on average 51 percent of girls miss four school days a month because of their periods. By providing appropriate knowledge and resources, we harness one of the biggest opportunities to improve education and equality for girls.

Get access up and running in every context

Almost half of all schools in low-income countries lack access to water and sanitation facilities. We provide safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and education on hygienic behaviours, like handwashing with soap, which can reduce cases of diarrhoea by 44 percent.

Increased urbanisation has also increased urban poverty, and the built environment requires us to adapt. High density housing, paved and concrete roads, and security issues demand different types of toilets, water storage and drainage. Our work also involves building local government capacity to facilitate sustainable interventions.

Sponsor a child Help ensure children and communities have safe, clean water

Raise awareness about water and sanitation

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Beverly draws clean water from her community's new borehole in Zambia.

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Sok Oeun and her children use clean water to wash in Cambodia.

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