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What you need to know about the water and sanitation crisis

Over 4,500 deaths are caused around the world each day due to poor hygiene and over two billion people live without access to adequate sanitation. But there’s plenty being done to tackle the ongoing crisis.

Lots of us take it for granted, but turning on a clean tap and using a proper bathroom are ideals impossible to many around the world.

Water is absolutely essential to our quality of life and opens up an abundance of possibilities that improve living conditions in long term ways. Without water, growing crops, building infrastructures, remaining healthy, and working hygienically is extremely difficult.

It might be shocking to read, then, that so many people around the world are unable to get access to clean water and decent hygiene. Nearly 800 million people don’t have access to a reliable water supply, which equates to over 11% of the world’s population.

So, you’re probably wondering what can be done to help, and where to go for more information. We’ve given an outline below with links to charities and their work to get you clued up about the water and sanitation crisis, as well as some info on how you can help.

What is the sanitation crisis?

If you’re lucky enough to be from a wealthy country, you may not be aware of the widespread severity of the sanitation issue that affects close to a third of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers water sanitation a high priority problem that needs to be solved by the end of this century.

In developing nations, sanitation-related diseases are a leading cause of death for children under five. Access to clean water, basic toilets, and black water disposal schemes are scarce in many poorer countries, making hygiene standards almost impossible to meet.

According to, 75% of the population in Uganda don’t have access to a toilet, while other countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Bangladesh are not far behind. Sanitation and scarcity of fresh water are also expected to become more intense issues as climate change develops over the next decade – the World Economic Forum listed it as one of the largest growing global risks.

What is being done to tackle it?

Luckily, there are a bunch of charities dedicated to helping provide resources to countries in need, including UNICEF,, Columbia Water Centre, and Waterislife, among many others. Each of these organisations are addressing certain aspects of the crisis.

UNICEF, for example, has its own designated water, sanitation, and hygiene team (WASH) that are dedicated to improving water and sanitation services in over 100 countries. They provide basic hygiene products alongside toilets and clean water – last year they reached over 14 million people.

Columbia Water Centre focuses more on the innovative tech behind water management, with systems being developed to resolve the lack of water in poorer countries. Check out this video below that goes into more detail about how our water is used on a global scale.

Other organisations are devoted to getting better water supplies to workers within businesses rather than singular communities. WASH4WORK strives to ensure companies take greater lengths to provide employees with adequate water and hygiene standards, and states that the private sector creates 90% of jobs in developing countries. Click here for more info on how it tackles the water crisis.

How can you help?

Obviously, you can always donate to the charities mentioned above. Most give you the choice to give a set amount each month, or opt for a one off payment. Getting educated about the problem is also a big help – telling others and spreading awareness is a great way to boost charity donations and get people talking.

It can be hard to feel like you can make a real difference if you live and work a large distance away from the countries most affected, but there are sponsored events such as marathon runs that you can get involved in. World Vision are doing a 6K global run on May 16th 2020 which you can sign up for here to raise money for water-starved communities.

Water scarcity and poor hygiene are ongoing issues in developing countries that are likely to worsen without adequate progress in the next few years. Climate change and wealth disparity mean the time to act is more urgent than ever. It’s a tough road ahead but, with more charity work and technological innovation being poured into this issue than ever before, there’s every reason to be hopeful about a brighter future for countries in need.