Safe Water Fact Sheet

U.S. Media Contacts:

Tim Glenn (719) 272-5377 and Allison Wilburn (219) 384-8177

For all non-media related inquiries, please call (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT.

What is it?

Ensuring safe water for every Compassion child and his or her family is critical to preserving the integrity and success of our holistic child development program.

The focus of our Water and Sanitation Priority Initiative (WaSH) efforts is to ensure that no Compassion-assisted child has to drink contaminated water or use unsafe sanitation facilities. Compassion provides the resources and infrastructure that help protect each child's health as they make their journey out of extreme poverty.

Safe-water Infrastructure

Children who have access to safe water are protected from waterborne diseases and are more likely to succeed in school. A nearby safe water source also helps to ensure girls get an education instead of spending hours each day collecting water for their family.

A girl drinking a glass of clean water
Proper Sanitation

Providing adequate toilets or latrines prevents open defecation, which leads to the rapid spread of disease through communities and puts children in physical danger. Combined with hand-washing facilities, latrines not only protect children’s health but foster dignity and self-respect.

Hygiene Education

Compassion provides personal hygiene kits and hygiene education so children can form good habits that will safeguard their health for a lifetime. From basic hand-washing to dental hygiene, Compassion-assisted children learn to care for themselves and lead by example.

Key Statistics

Despite impressive gains, 844 million people worldwide lack even a basic drinking-water service and at least two billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.1 There are also still 159 million people who use untreated water from rivers and lakes, considered among the most unsafe water sources.2 2.3 billion people do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines and of these, 892 million still defecate in the open.3

Each year, contaminated water causes about 502,000 diarrheal deaths, primarily in the developing world.1 The deaths of 361,000 children under five could be avoided each year if they had access to safe water, improved sanitation facilities and hand-washing hygiene education.1 Diarrhea is the second-most common health problem (behind respiratory disease) treated through Compassion Survival.

In fiscal years 2015-18, Compassion’s clean water initiatives impacted more than 170,000 Compassion children and their families through the:

  • Installation of 8,449 toilets, 874 new water-access points near children’s homes and more than 276 hand-washing stations at Compassion church partners
  • Provision of safe water through more than 159 new borehole wells, large water-storage tanks or large-scale water purification systems
  • Distribution of more than 20,400 in-home water filtration systems in 17 countries where Compassion works

How Does it Work?

Every $1 you invest in Water and Sanitation Priority Initiative creates a $4 return because whole communities spend less on healthcare and more on education and in the local economy.

Boys learing good hygiene habits by brushing their teeth

Compassion’s church partners know exactly what the water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) needs are in the community. That’s why we empower each church to take ownership of their intervention and tailor it to serve the community as effectively as possible.

The Most Popular Interventions include:
  • Drilling wells
  • Facilitating waste collection and management
  • Providing water filtration systems
  • Installing rainwater harvesting systems
  • Building water storage and pumping systems
  • Providing hygiene education
  • Building septic systems
  • Training community members on equipment maintenance
  • Constructing toilets and washrooms

1 WHO, Drinking Water Fact Sheet, 2018
2 UNICEF, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, 2017
3 WHO, Sanitation Water Fact Sheet, 2017