Water & Sanitation

Food iconGet the facts about safe water and how it affects children living in poverty.

One of the most critical needs in the fight against poverty around the world is the need for clean water.

Deaths from diseases caused by dirty water are easily preventable. Even so, lack of access to clean water continues to complicate life for those in poverty.

  • In 2015, 71 percent of the global population (5.2 billion people) used a safely managed drinking-water service – that is, one located on premises, available when needed, and free from contamination. 1
  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces. 1
  • By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. 1
  • Since 2000, 1.4 billion people have gained access to basic drinking water services, such as piped water into the home or a protected dug well. 3
Children getting water from the well
Boy drinking water
  • Over 10 percent of the population still relies on untreated surface water in 22 countries. 4
  • At least 10 percent of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by waste water. 2
  • 2.3 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. Of these, 892 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water. 2
  • The countries where open defection is most widespread have the highest number of deaths of children aged under 5 years as well as the highest levels of malnutrition and poverty, and big disparities of wealth. 2
  • Almost 60 percent of deaths due to diarrhea worldwide are attributable to unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene and sanitation. Hand washing with soap alone can cut the risk of diarrhea by at least 40 percent. 5
  • Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year. 6

How to Share the Importance of Clean Water With Children

Young girl helping her mom fill plastic containers with waterThese facts, ideas and special water challenges create opportunities for children to think about the water they drink. Please use them to share the importance of clean water with the children in your life.

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How Do the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Compassion?

Students looking through window and smilingThe UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.

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1 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact Sheet. Drinking Water, February 2018.

2 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact Sheet. Sanitation, February 2018.

3 UNICEF, Water Supply and Sanitation: Current Status + Progress, July 2017.

4 Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG baselines. Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

5 UNICEF, Diarrhoeal Disease: Current Status + Progress, February 2017.

6 WASHwatch 2016