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The Global Water Crisis

2 Billion People Lack Access to Clean Water

3.6 Billion People Don’t Have a Decent Toilet

Whether it's a drink of water or a working toilet, water and sanitation are basic needs we often take for granted. But globally, 1 in 4 people doesn't have access to safe drinking water, and nearly 1 in 2 people doesn't have a decent toilet. This is the problem we're facing head-on.

Impact on Women and Girls

Lack of water and sanitation services is especially hard on women and girls. They are often the ones responsible for collecting water, which takes them away from work and school. When they have water, though, all that changes. They have time to work, study, and spend time with their families. Learn more about the impact on women and girls around the world.

About the impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene on women and girls.


women who could earn a college degree every day instead of looking for a place to go to the bathroom.¹

the time each day women and girls spend looking for a place to go to the bathroom¹

the time each year women in sub-Saharan Africa spend walking for water²


billion in estimated economic losses due to poor water⁸

Impact on Economic Prosperity

Spending hours each day fetching water or battling waterborne diseases causes people to lose money on medical costs and lose time they could spend on income-generating activities. When families regain their time and health, they can turn it into education and job opportunities that lead to a better future.

Impact on Health

Without access to clean water, people resort to using and drinking water from contaminated sources, leading to preventable diseases like diarrhea and cholera. These illnesses cause families to lose time and money, and can even lead to death. When communities have a safe water source, they're instead able to thrive.

deaths occur each year from water-related diseases³

children died last year from water-related diseases⁴

1 in 6
health care facilities have no handwashing stations or toilets⁵

Impact on Education

Time lost from fetching water or being sick from waterborne diseases keeps many children out of school. Without kids being able to advance their education, cycles of poverty often continue generation after generation. Once schools and families have water and sanitation facilities and menstrual hygiene resources for girls, children can stay in school and families can prosper.

0 hours

girls spend each and every day collecting water⁶

How Climate Change Impacts the Global Water Crisis

We're seeing climate change already affecting water access for people around the world through more devastating hurricanes, more floods, and more unexpected storms. Low- and middle-income countries have the most to lose in the face of these climate disasters. 

We know resilient water service is at the center of climate action. 


Roughly 90% of climate disasters are water-related

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Water forms the very foundation of society. Without clean, accessible water, there remains a cycle of poverty.

Contaminated water causes poor health, and a lack of accessible water means time spent walking long distances. Both of these result in poor attendance at school and missed opportunities for work. 

Missing school or work leads to a lack of job opportunities and lower earnings, resulting in a lack of economic development. 

Without safe, reliable access to water, the cycle of poverty perpetuates itself. 

Paths to Poverty

¹ WaterAid, with original calculations from WHO/UNICEF, Hutton & European Union Labour Force Survey.
² United Nations
³ World Health Organization (WHO)
United Nations Water
Hutton et al. 2015
World Health Organization