Top Ten Things You Need to Know

  1. Currently, more than 1 billion people have no access to safe water for personal requirements.3 
  2. 4,900 children under the age of 5 die per day due to water and sanitation problems.3
  3. 30,000 people die every week from diseases caused by unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions.4
  4. Women in water-stressed regions walk on average 3.5 miles everyday to get water to their homes.
  5. A five-minute shower in America uses more water than the average person in a slum in a developing country uses throughout an entire day.3
  6. 1 in 9 people do not have access to an improved water source.2
  7. In developing countries, dirty water is a greater threat to human safety than violent conflict.3
  8. Dripping faucets in developed countries lose more water than is available each day to more than 1 billion people. 3
  9. By 2025, close to 3 billion people will live in water scarce regions of the world.3
  10. Water and sanitation are some of the most powerful preventive medicines available to governments to reduce infectious disease. 3 




Esther in Kimana

In water stressed regions or after natural disasters, organizations invest in filtration and purification systems. Yet, getting clean water from access point to home is the Achilles’ heel of the global water crisis. 

Women in water-stressed regions walk on average 3.5 miles everyday to get water to their homes.3 More than 25% of the population in several countries of Sub-Saharan Africa spends over 30 minutes to collect water in one trip.

People who spend more than half an hour per round trip progressively collect less water, and eventually fail to meet their family’s minimum daily drinking-water requirements.76% of the time women and children are the ones who face the burden of carrying water2





The Achilles' Heel of the Global Water Crisis

The result of a revealing 2010 health study* of water-carrying practices in rural Limpopo Province, South Africa are shocking. In the six villages studied, most of the water carrying was done by women and children balancing sloshing containers carefully on their heads. The mean container weight was more than 43 pounds (19.5 kg), and the mean distance traveled with a full container was about 368 yards (337 m). 5

Not surprisingly, 69% of all the water carriers experienced spinal (neck or back) pain. People who carried head loads were especially affected. 5

443 million school days each year are lost from water-related illness.3 Water-related illness leads to lost educational opportunities in childhood and contributes to poverty in adulthood.3  Around half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time due to a health problem caused by the water and sanitation crisis. The water and santitation crisis causes Sub-Saharan Africa to lose about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually. Most of the losses affect households below the poverty line, making it even more difficult for them to escape the cycle of poverty.  3




1. Hutton G, Haller L, Evaluations of the costs and benefits of water and sanitation improvements at the global level. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2004.

2. MICS and DHS surveys from 45 developing countries, 2005-2008.

3. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2006).

4. "Facts and figures: Water, sanitation and hygiene links to health ." World Health Organization . WHO, n.d. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

5. "Domestic water carrying and its implications for health: a review and mixed methods pilot study in Limpopo Province, South Africa." Environmental Health 2010