There’s nothing more essential to life on Earth than water and our ability to overcome water scarcity. From Central Australia to sub-Saharan Africa and Asia’s teeming megacities, water is scarce. People are struggling to access the clean water
they need for drinking, cooking, bathing, hand-washing, and growing their food.
Water scarcity is defined as a water deficiency or a lack of safe water supplies. As the population of the world grows and the environment becomes further affected by climate change, access to fresh drinking water dwindles.
Globally, 785 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Every day, over 800 children die from dirty water, due to diarrhoea caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene and scarce or unreliable water
and sanitation facilities in many communities around the world.
The impacts of water scarcity affect families and their communities. Without clean, easily accessible water, they can become locked in poverty for generations. Children drop out of school and parents struggle to make a living.
Women and children are worst affected - children because they are more vulnerable to diseases of dirty water and women and girls because they often bear the burden of carrying water for their families for an estimated 200 million hours each day.
Access to clean water changes everything; it’s a stepping stone to development. When people gain access to clean water, they are better able to practise good hygiene and sanitation.
Children enjoy good health and are more likely to attend school. Parents put aside their worries about water-related diseases and lack of access to clean water. Instead, they can focus on watering their crops and livestock and diversifying their incomes.
Johanna, 23, holds her son David, five, so he can wash his face and drink clean water flowing from one of the taps in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras. The water system was built by the community with support from World Vision.
1700s to 1800s: Industrialisation leads to increased urbanisation in England, highlighting the need for clean water supplies and sanitation.
1800s: Water shortages first appear in historical records.
1854: Dr John Snow discovers the link between water and the spread of cholera during an outbreak in London.
1900s: Since 1900, more than 11 billion people have died from drought, and drought has affected more than one billion people.
1993: The U.N. General Assembly designates March 22 as World Water Day.
2000: The U.N. member states set Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for development progress, including a 2015 target to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
2003: UN-Water was founded as coordinating platform for issues of sanitation and fresh water access.
2005: Thirty-five percent of the global population experiences chronic water shortages, up from nine percent in 1960.
2005 to 2015: UN member states prioritise water and sanitation development in an International Decade for Action called “Water for Life”.
2008: The UN-recognised International Year of Sanitation prioritises health and dignity.
2010: The MDG’s clean water access target is achieved five years ahead of schedule. More than two billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1990. The UN General Assembly recognises the right of each person to have adequate supplies of water for personal and domestic use that are physically accessible, equitably distributed, safe and affordable.
2013: The UN designates 19 November as World Toilet Day to highlight the global issue of billions of people left without access to proper sanitation.
2015: About 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean water in the last 25 years, and about 1.4 billion gained basic access to sanitation since 2000. The UN member states sign on to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – successors to the MDGs that promise clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.
2018: Worldwide, 2.1 billion people still live without safe drinking water in their homes and more than one billion people still have no choice but to defecate outside.
World Vision is the leading humanitarian provider of clean drinking water in the developing world. We focus on bringing water to the extremely poor — including those with disabilities — in rural areas with the greatest disease burden.
In 2018, more than 4 million people were reached with clean water through World Vision’s projects. That’s one new person every 10 seconds.
More than 700 World Vision water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) professionals and thousands of development professionals live and work in communities worldwide to co-create solutions that last.
World Vision fights against the water crisis to keep the water flowing. We invest an average of 15 years in a community, cultivating local ownership and training locals to manage and maintain water points.
An independent study by The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, one of the premier academic groups in water research, examined 1,470 water sources in 520 communities located in the Greater Afram Plains region of Ghana. Their report, published in 2015, showed that nearly 80 percent of wells drilled by World Vision continued to function at high levels even after 20 years, thanks largely to our community engagement model.
World Vision believes we can solve the world water crisis within our lifetimes. Our efforts include:
In Kenya, Margaret, 45, operates a pedal pump to irrigate her field with help from Isaac. Their community benefits from a borehole, pipeline, and water kiosk system World Vision installed in 2013. Before the water system, she made a meager living by farming a half-acre field; now she grows lush crops on six acres.
1960s: World Vision begins small water projects.
1980s: Severe droughts in Africa focus the world’s attention on the urgent need for water.
1990s: World Vision increases commitment to clean water.
2000s: World Vision scales up water work to combat increasing water scarcity issues.
Learn more about World Vision’s water work.
A sprinkler irrigation system in Rwanda rotates among farmers’ plots so all the farmers’ crops are watered. World Vision provided the water system and established a water users’ association for farmers.
Explore frequently asked questions about water, sanitation and hygiene and learn how you can help children and families who lack clean water.
Back to questions
Clean, fresh water is essential to life. You can help bring clean water to families in need as a supporter of World Vision. Over the last five years, we reached more than 14 million people with clean water. Our goals for the future are even more ambitious,
but achievable, with your help.
Donating to World Vision’s water projects help bring us closer to ending the global water crisis. Here’s how.
Your donations help to improve access to sanitation through the use of wells, boreholes, water tanks, toilets, taps and sewage infrastructure. To enable long-term success, we provide vital education about sanitation and hygiene in order to empower communities
to advocate for, build and maintain their own facilities and infrastructure.
The spread of disease is preventable. We create lasting impact by empowering households to take the initiative to build, use and maintain toilets. We help to provide awareness and understanding so that communities can propel themselves into action.Natural
leaders can emerge as they collectively decide how to create a more hygienic and safe environment. When communities design and drive their own locally-appropriate initiatives, there is greater ownership and sustainability.
Children in Zambia meet Raya, a Sesame Street Muppet, who introduces kids to things they need to know about clean water. Sesame Street and World Vision are working together to help end the global water, sanitation, and hygiene crisis.
Clean water, combined with basic sanitation and hygiene education, is one of the most effective ways to improve lives and fight extreme poverty. Here are a few benefits:
Providing hygiene education and sanitation facilities, such as toilets and hand-washing stations, multiplies the health benefits of clean water by helping to reduce the spread of illness and disease.
In fact, hand-washing alone has been shown to result in children growing taller, stronger and smarter. So intertwined are the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene that they have been combined into one sector known in the global aid community as WASH.
Women and girls bear the greatest burden in the developing world because they are often responsible for hauling water to their homes. They spend an estimated 200 million
hours collecting water every day. The average African woman walks six kilometres to haul 18kgs of water each day. This daily grind saps her energy for other activities and robs her of the opportunity to spend this time with her family, or pursue school
and income activities to improve their lives.
Girls who attend school until adolescence are more likely to drop out when they start menstruating unless their school has clean water, toilets, sanitary supplies and hygiene training. Helping young women to manage menstrual health is not just about providing
appropriate facilities, but also includes addressing social norms.
At childbirth, lack of sanitation, clean water and proper hygiene contribute to high rates of disease and death among mothers and newborns in the developing world. World Vision is accelerating its push to bring clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities
to more health clinics to assure safer deliveries.
Children stand by a solar panel that powers a drinking water decontamination system in the Langar district in Afghanistan. Before World Vision installed the system, they had to walk 30 minutes to reach a dangerously contaminated water source.
Our average cost for World Vision to bring clean water to one person in Africa is $50. But this price actually includes much more than just clean water. It also includes the costs involved to ensure that a well or water point is maintained so it will
last for generations.
Moreover, by leveraging other resources like child sponsorship and local funds, each person who benefits from clean water is also trained and equipped to practise safe sanitation and hygiene.
World Vision’s goal is that by 2030 all communities located within our development areas worldwide will have access to safe water (defined as a 30-minute or less round-trip walk to the water source), adequate sanitation, hand-washing facilities
and menstrual hygiene facilities, as well as hygiene promotion and behaviour change.
The global WASH program will specifically promote the inclusion of the most vulnerable men, women and children. It will ensure that people with disabilities, those affected by HIV and AIDS, and other vulnerable groups in each area are actively included and benefit from hygiene messaging and increased access to sustainable safe water and improved sanitation.
Based on our achievements over the last five years (we reached more than 14 million people with clean water), we believe that our strategic partnerships with local governments, communities and other humanitarian organisations will help us collectively
achieve this goal.
Your monthly donation will actively change lives every day of the year by providing vital access to clean water and sanitation
A single one-off donation provides support that will help change a life today
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