Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old. The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.
On average people in these impoverished areas spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely contaminated.
Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families. Along their long walk, they're subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. With safe water nearby, women are free to pursue new opportunities and improve their families’ lives.
Feeding our world takes up to 90% of our freshwater withdrawals. When a water project is built in a community, members can often use the new water source to grow small gardens near their homes and secure their own food supply. Self-sufficient households are less affected by conflict, famine or inadequate government services.
In most rural communities worldwide, women and young girls are responsible for walking to collect water for their families. Building a water project nearby can give women the freedom to pursue an education or earn extra income. Water Committees are often the first chance for women to step into elected leadership roles.
Here are a few statistics about fresh water:
- clean water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21%
- sanitation alone can reduce water-related deaths by 37.5%
- hand washing alone can reduce water-related deaths by 35%