The Water Crisis
The power of water
Water connects every aspect of life. Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential – empowering people with time for school and work, and contributing to improved health for women, children, and families around the world.
Today, 771 million people – 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water and 1.7 billion people – 1 in 4 – lack access to a toilet. These are the people we empower.
Learn more about the global water crisis >
A women's crisis
Women are disproportionately affected by the water crisis, as they are often responsible for collecting water. This takes time away from work, school and caring for family. The lack of water and sanitation locks women in a cycle of poverty.
Empowering women is critical to solving the water crisis. When women have access to safe water at home, they can pursue more beyond water collection and their traditional roles. They have time to work and add to their household income.
A health crisis
The water crisis is a health crisis. Nearly 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases which could be reduced with access to safe water or sanitation. Every 2 minutes a child dies from a water-related disease. Access to safe water and sanitation contributes to improved health and helps prevent the spread of infectious disease. It means reduced child and maternal mortality rates. It means reduced physical injury from constant lifting and carrying heavy loads of water. As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever access to safe water is critical to the health of families around the world.
A children's and education crisis
Children are often responsible for collecting water for their families. This takes time away from school and play. Access to safe water and sanitation changes this. Reductions in time spent collecting water have been found to increase school attendance, especially for girls. Access to safe water gives children time to play and opportunity for a bright future.
See how the water crisis affects children and their education >
An economic crisis
Time spent gathering water or seeking safe sanitation accounts for billions in lost economic opportunities. $260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of basic water and sanitation. Access to safe water and sanitation at home turns time spent into time saved, giving families more time to pursue education and work opportunities that will help them break the cycle of poverty.
Learn more about how the water crisis is an economic crisis >
A climate crisis
Water is the primary way in which we will feel many of the effects of climate change. Millions of families in poverty live in regions where water access is limited, temporary, or unstable. They are less prepared to face the effects of climate change like temperature extremes, floods, and droughts. Access to sustainable safe water and improved sanitation solutions can support climate resiliency for the people who need it the most.
Read more about the connection between climate change and water access >
- World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme. (2021). Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2021 Update and MDG Assessment.
- World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme. (2015). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water, 2015 Update and MDG Assessment.
- World Health Organization. (2019). “Children: Reducing Mortality.” World Health Organization, Sept. 2019.
- World Health Organization and UNICEF. (2016). Safely managed drinking water services - thematic report on drinking water
- Graham, Hirai, Kim. (2016). An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children
- WaterAid. (2012). Briefing note - 1 in 3 women lack access to safe toilets
- Gonsalves, G.S., Kaplan, E.H., & Paltiel, A.D. (2015). Reducing Sexual Violence by Increasing the Supply of Toilets
- The World Bank. Nauges and Strand. (2013). Water Hauling and Girls' School Attendance
- World Health Organization. Hutton. (2012). Global Costs and Benefits of Drinking-Water Supply and Sanitation Interventions
The water crisis affects millions around the world. Make an impact today.Donate