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.
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.
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.
Access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene can transform lives. Globally, 663 million people live without easy access to clean water and 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities. (UNICEF). Many of these people have to walk long distances to and from their homes to access clean water, which can impact girls’ education and increase women’s time burden, as women are the primary collectors of water. It is estimated that 3.36 million children (the majority of whom are girls) and 13.54 million adult females were responsible for water collection in households with collection times greater than 30 minutes.
The water they work so hard to collect is often contaminated and without the knowledge and skills for proper water purification and storage, can lead to their families getting sick with waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.
Worsening and increasing droughts in countries like Ethiopia and Malawi means that vulnerable families are at greater risk of becoming food insecure and more susceptible to dehydration and waterborne disease. Ethiopia’s drought is a result of two successive failed rainy seasons and has produced the worst food crisis in the country in 30 years. With no crops or rangeland to feed either themselves or their cattle, as many as 18 million people are at risk of hunger and disease.