A boy smiles as he shows how he washes his hands in clean water.

Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

Clean water means life. For children living in poverty, it can also mean freedom – freedom from waterborne diseases and long daily treks to haul home water for the family. Our clean water, sanitation and hygiene programs give children back their health. And their lives.


$22.2 million

focused on Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

47 programs

people reached


communities were certified as open defecation free


In Rwanda, schools with basic sanitation facilities increased from

5% to 100%Rugarama | 2017-2022

664,859people had access to safe drinking water


600,645people had access to handwashing facilities at home or school


239,699people were trained or involved in community water, sanitation or hygiene initiatives

Connected Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 03 logo: Good health and well-beingSustainable Development Goal 05 logo: Gender EqualitySustainable Development Goal 06 logo: Clean water and sanitationSustainable Development Goal 09 logo: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Explore our investments and results

Explore our investments and results options


A close-up photo of an infant being fed drinking water from a yellow measuring cup.

Global Challenges

In the past two decades, substantial progress has been made to provide the world’s population with better water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Even so, Sustainable Development Goal 6 is set out to provide water and sanitation access for all by 2030 and to leave no one behind, yet at least 2 billion people are still drinking water contaminated with feces while over 1.7 billion lack basic sanitation facilities like toilets and latrines—and 494 million people still resort to defecating in the open.

Children die needlessly because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene

Diarrhea is both preventable and treatable, yet it remains a leading cause of death among children under five, killing approximately 1,300 girls and boys every day. In conflict zones, children are nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal disease than from the conflict itself.

Nearly 60 per cent of diarrhea-related deaths are attributed to unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene and sanitation. Simply washing hands with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhea by 40 per cent, and protect against many other illnesses—in fact, the number of annual deaths from diarrhea among children under five decreased by 61 per cent between 2000 and 2019. Using basic WASH interventions, many more lives can be saved.

Even as progress is made, we see deep inequalities related to water and sanitation on regional and national levels. For example, 3 per cent of the global population (207 million people) currently travel more than 30 minutes to collect water—two thirds of them live in sub-Saharan Africa with the burden falling disproportionately on women and girls, often affecting their health and physical safety. Imbalances within countries are also common: between 2000 and 2017, basic water coverage in rural Haiti increased among the richest but decreased among the poorest, widening the gap between them.

Disparities like these are compounded by growing challenges like climate change, political instability, economic crises, and the yet unknown long-term impacts of COVID-19.

Schools worldwide lack basic WASH services

In reporting on the state of water, sanitation and hygiene in school settings, particularly in the context of COVID-19, UNICEF revealed that at the start of the pandemic, one in three schools worldwide had limited or no drinking water, 818 million children lacked basic handwashing services at school and 698 million went without basic sanitation facilities.

Poor sanitation poses a particular threat for women and girls. According to the World Bank, at least 500 million women and girls are lacking a safe, clean, private facility to manage their menstrual hygiene, and this affects girls’ education—a meta-analysis by the World Bank found that a quarter of adolescent girls in India did not attend school during menstruation because of inadequate toilets.

Investing in WASH has broad benefits to society

Sanitation deficits cost the global economy nearly US$223 billion in 2015; however, a WHO study calculated a global return of US$5.50 for every dollar spent in sanitation—seen in lower health costs, more productivity and fewer premature deaths.

Achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene would bring remarkable change, with global reductions in waterborne disease, better nutrition outcomes, hundreds of daily deaths prevented—and the reality of a world that upholds the dignity, safety and future prospects of an entire generation.

Please see our Annual Results Report for a full list of references

Two young girls smile at each other as they stand in a grass field with a bicycle.

Approach and Strategy

Our Goal

Child and family health is protected through safe water, sanitation and hygiene services

Collaborate with communities, organizations and governments to develop gender-responsive local water and sanitation systems
Teach gender-sensitive hygiene and sanitation practices that prevent the spread of disease
Provide emergency WASH services during humanitarian crises
Ensure schools and health centres are equipped with gender-responsive, accessible WASH facilities

World Vision’s WASH programs bring safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene practices to communities around the world. We prioritize making improved water sources and sanitation facilities accessible for the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities and those on the socio-economic margins—often women and girls. Our water, sanitation and hygiene programs take place in both fragile and stable settings and are focused in four key areas.

In communities, WASH services are developed by residents in collaboration with NGOs, governments, the private sector and donors. The resulting water schemes serve diverse populations—from small collections of households to large communities accessing water taps and kiosks through piped systems. Women are instrumental in choosing the location of the water points and participate in water management committees, often as leaders of the committees themselves.

In schools, World Vision works to provide access to safe water and improved sanitation through upgraded gender-responsive latrines along with hygiene education, including menstrual hygiene management. Facilities are modified where needed so students with physical disabilities can access and use them.

In health facilities, we collaborate with local health authorities to support better access to WASH services, which are essential when providing basic health care to girls and boys.

In emergencies, we provide gender-responsive WASH services among disaster-struck populations and within camps for refugees or internally displaced people.

A white jeep driving through a muddy path, featuring a rainbow and trees in the background.

Investments and Results

In 2022, $22 million was invested in 47 programs that focused primarily on water, sanitation and hygiene approaches, reaching 192,897 girls, 162,467 boys, 426,433 women and 376,331 men.

Our investment in WASH increased significantly in 2022, driven by multiple factors. First, our response to the crisis in northern Ethiopia is currently being supported by a major Recovery Nexus project for 2022 and 2023; although its results are not represented in the progress below because of funding-related reporting lags, it will certainly impact future years’ results.

Other notable responses are receiving WASH investment. These include our responses to the Haiti earthquake and Tropical Storm Ana in Malawi. We have also continued to support the Sudan sustained humanitarian response with a grant in South Darfur and South Kordofan for the past two years.

2022 saw an increase in funding and projects focused on water infrastructure, following a period during the pandemic when hygiene support was prioritized above water access through our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Because of this, the number of water points built or renovated is much higher in 2022 compared to previous years; the decrease in WASH training can also be attributed to this shift.

A wide-shot image of two people wearing backpacks, looking up at a massive green mountain area.



Efforts put in by families and communities over the past several years have contributed to measurable positive change. Here are some recent water, sanitation and hygiene examples.


The water storage tanks at Lupembe Health Centre. The new system has allowed widespread access to water and brought peace to the community.

World Vision's support for a mechanized water project with a solar-powered reservoir has relieved a longstanding struggle between medical staff and community members over scarce water resources at Lupembe Health Centre in Malawi.

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A boy looks at the aftermath of a typhoon.

Learn about 10 major causes of poverty and how we can help solve them. Clean water is first on the list.

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Two children smile as they wash their hands at an outdoor water tap.

As climate change worsens and populations increase, more regions are experiencing water scarcity.

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Unless otherwise stated, data presented on this page reflects the most up-to-date results of World Vision Canada programs reported between October 2021 and September 2022, and any previous fiscal years available. Previously reported data may not match the current presentation as we continuously receive and refine data from our programs. If you have any questions, kindly reach out to us.