World Water Day, marked each year on March 22, is an opportunity to celebrate the immense progress made to improve access to clean water: between 1990 and 2015, 2.3 billion people gained access to a better, safer source of water.
It’s also a chance to spotlight the urgent needs that still remain: today, 844 million people lack even basic access to a clean water source, and 2.3 billion lack basic access to safe sanitation. Unsafe water causes the spread of deadly diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea, which are a major driver for undernutrition in children. Each day, an estimated 1,000 children die of preventable waterborne diseases.
Ensuring access to clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene goes hand-in-hand with efforts to improve health and nutrition. When clean water is guaranteed, communities are healthier and more resilient.
Whenever we can, Action Against Hunger integrates projects to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene into our program strategies, reaching millions of people in need each year. Here’s how:
Improving Access to Clean Water
During emergencies, we truck water into communities and install storage tanks and reservoirs. Where water is scarce or unsafe, we drill new wells and decontaminate unsafe ones, install hand-pumps, protect natural springs, tap aquifers, rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, and pipe water into hard-to-reach villages and health centers. In 2016, we improved more than 50,000 water points in communities around the world.
Promoting Sanitation and Hygiene
To prevent disease outbreaks during a crisis, our teams distribute hygiene kits and build latrines and hand-washing stations. In communities at risk, we construct water filters made from basic materials and teach healthy practices like hand-washing, cooking with clean utensils, and drawing water from protected sources.
Building Lasting Impact
We are committed to our partnerships with communities – by working closely with community members, we can forge long-term, sustainable change. We train water committees, made up of elected community members, to manage their water and sanitation infrastructure themselves and organize village health teams to model good sanitation and hygiene practices for their communities long after we leave an area.