The Crisis.Water

Nearly 663 million people lack improved drinking water access and 2.4 billion lack improved sanitation services.

Water related issues are a growing problem. Because of the UN’s population growth projections and the changing climate’s impact on water availability by 2025 two-thirds of the world could live in areas of water stress.

Annually, approximately 3.4 million people, mostly children, die from water-related diseases. In Africa alone, women and girls spend approximately 40 billion hours a year collecting water — traveling long distances, carrying heavy loads, and sacrificing their safety and opportunities for education and economic development. This reality exists in countries around the world.

Reliable access to safe water saves lives, and transforms communities. Where there is adequate water and sanitation, there is a chance for a better future.


Water is essential to our health and survival. Our bodies can sustain weeks without food, but only days without water.

At any given time, more than half the hospital beds in Sub-Saharan Africa are occupied by patients suffering from fecal-related disease, most often associated with contaminated water.

Each year, 272 million schools days are lost due to water and sanitation-related diseases.

By improving the water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, 4 percent of the global disease problem could be prevented.

Ninety-eight percent of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.

People living in slums often pay 5 to 10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city. This price fluctuation prevents those living in developing countries that are poverty-stricken from purchasing clean water, and as a result, they have to use dirty, polluted water.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, only about one in three people have access to adequate sanitation. Treating diarrhea related illness consumes 12 percent of the region’s health budget.

According to the World Health Organization, every $1 invested in improved water and sanitation returns $4 to $12 in economic gains and costs averted, dependent upon the type of solution.

Water scarcity and poor water quality increases disease, limits economic growth and food production, and is becoming an increasing threat to peace and security.

A regular five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person in a developing-country slum uses in an entire day.

$100 billion is spent on bottled water every year. According to UN estimates, it would take less than one third of this amount to provide clean, safe water to the entire world.

Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council
World Health Organization
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Development Programme and UN-Water
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs