WASH: A Global Issue

Why does WASH matter?

Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene significantly contributes to the global burden of disease. 

More than half of all neglected tropical diseases are WASH-related – resulting in child stunting and impaired cognitive functioning. Half of all cases of malnutrition are caused by WASH-related diseases. Poor WASH also contributes to numerous social ailments. Women and children are most affected by limited access to water, forced to sacrifice their time, education and livelihoods to walk miles daily for water for the household.

They also risk their safety. It is not uncommon for women and girls to be sexually harassed while walking. A lack of toilets means many are watched by men as they defecate in public, or – after painfully holding their bladder and bowels all day – risk attack by waiting until night falls.

Ultimately, poor WASH can result in lost potential and dignity, ill health and even death.

WASH: A global statistical snapshot

Globally those most likely to be affected by the WASH crisis are the poorest and most vulnerable poeple in the world.

For more information on access to water and sanitation, including historical and projected data, see our global WASH data maps.