Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right, yet billions are still faced with daily challenges accessing even the most basic of services. Around 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated. Some 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. More than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any treatment, leading to pollution.
Water and sanitation related diseases remain among the major causes of death in children under five; more than 800 children die every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor hygiene. Proper water and sanitation is a key foundation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including good health and gender equality. By managing our water sustainably, we are also able to better manage our production of food and energy and contribute to decent work and economic growth. Moreover, we can preserve our water ecosystems, their biodiversity, and take action on climate change.
Together with our partners, we work with governments, Non government organisations, community-based organisations, businesses and entrepreneurs, and local people to improve access to safe water and sanitation services. To ensure improvements are sustainable, we promote behaviour change and work with communities to review various sanitation options so they can make informed decisions about which best meets their needs. We address the entire sanitation chain to make sure human waste is safely managed, including transportation or storage, treatment, and disposal or re-use.
As with safe water, we prioritise the poorest and most marginalised people when improving access to safe water and sanitation, to ensure no-one is denied this basic human right – only if entire communities use safe toilets will people’s health, livelihoods and wellbeing be improved.
But ensuring adequate sanitation for all takes more than building latrines or motivating communities. We use our experience of delivering services to help our partners and service providers identify blockages and improvements in their water and sanitation services delivery systems. Our aim is to contribute to a strong safe water and sanitation sector around the world, so that everyone, everywhere has sustainable access to a safe water and toilet.
Through our advocacy and campaigns, we call on governments nationally and internationally to make safe water and sanitation a political priority and deliver on their commitment to end open defecation and ensure safe and equitable water and sanitation for all by 2030, part of the Sustainable Development Goals. We raise awareness of the fact that improvements in water and sanitation are key to the success of many other areas of development – health, environment, education, housing and infrastructure.”