Image credit: Photo by  Chinh Le Duc  on  Unsplash

Image credit: Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash


Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)

Water is the source of all life. Contaminated drinking water can lead to diseases such as typhoid and cholera, causing illnesses and deaths. 

1.8 billion people lack access to safely-managed drinking water.

Safe water is vital for drinking, food preparation, personal hygiene and domestic use.

Poor access to safely-managed drinking water means that people use drinking-water sources that are contaminated with human waste, which spreads bacteria, viruses, parasites and worms. These transmit diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. (WHO)

Each year, there are about 502,000 diarrhoeal deaths related to contaminated drinking water. 

Diarrhoeal disease is the secondcause of death in children under five, killing an estimated 340,000 children each year. 50% of child malnutrition is associated with unsafe drinking-water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene (WHO, 2008). These are preventable with safe water and improved sanitation and hygiene. 

Water sources are often far from homes in developing countries. Women and girls often spend much of their time and energy fetching water. People are forced to rely on surface water, unprotected and possibly contaminated wells or vendors selling water of unverifiable provenance and quality.


"Almost 60 per cent of deaths due to diarrhoea worldwide are attributable to unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene and sanitation. Handwashing with soap alone can cut the risk of diarrhoea by at least 40 per cent and significantly lower the risk of respiratory infections. Clean home environments and good hygiene are important for preventing the spread of both pneumonia and diarrhoea, and safe drinking water and proper disposal of human waste, including child faeces, are vital to stopping the spread of diarrhoeal disease among children and adults." (Source:


Universal access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene would reduce the global disease burden by 10%. 

For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of at least $4 is returned in increased productivity. (Sanitation returns $5.50 from $1 and water returns $2 from $1). (WHO, 2012)



Water interventions aim to improve access to safe water and prevent waterborne diseases, particularly diarrheal disease, a major cause of death among children in developing countries in the region. 

There are two forms of water interventions: Water Quantity and Supply Interventions (which aim to improve access to water) and Water Quality Interventions (which aim to ensure that water is safe for consumption). 



According to the WHO, countries where open defection is most widespread have the highest number of deaths of children under 5 as well as the highest levels of malnutrition and poverty. Sanitation interventions target this problem by ensuring that facilities which separate human waste from lived environments e.g. toilets are accessible.



Hygiene interventions which promote handwashing with soap are one of the most effective public health interventions in reducing the burden of infectious diseases. These interventions aim to not only improve access to clean water and soap for handwashing, but also to inspire change in entrenched behaviours.