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.


$36.5 million

focused on Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

70 programs

people reached


In Sri Lanka, access to improved sanitation facilities increased from

57% to 80%Bogawanthalawa | 2017-2022
Over $14 in benefits

to children have been generated for every dollar spent on WASH projects


317,555people had access to sanitation facilities like toilets at home or school.


395,296people had access to safe drinking water.


242,795water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) products were distributed for family health, such as hygiene kits and water filters.

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

Real impact measured

Globally, 2 billion people still don’t have access to safe drinking water. The lack of this essential need is why water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions are key to World Vision’s program models to help the most vulnerable.


Our WASH model’s intended impact is to improve the health and nutrition of children by reducing the incidence of diarrhea and other infections. By improving access to clean water and hygiene, women and girls, who often have to travel long distances to get water, have a minimized risk of exposure to sexual violence, harassment and psychosocial stress. Their productive time and access to education also increase.


Not only do our programs support physical outputs, like constructing water sources or fixing latrines, but our approach also addresses behaviour changes that may be necessary in a community for people to maintain good water, sanitation or hygiene practices. This can be done through training, education and awareness building.


Our analysis, which examined 111 programs across 29 countries between 2019-2021, has found the following benefits:


  • for every $1 invested in WASH programs, over $14 in economic benefits are generated back to society
  • programs reached 1,220,111 participants, including 156,174 children under age 5
  • program interventions saved an estimated 4,901 lives
  • non-health benefits included time savings from no longer having to travel far distances to collect water, which increased productivity and safety


We continue to analyze our WASH program models to make improvements and assess effectiveness. Read the findings from our cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis to learn more.


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

Global Challenges

Children die needlessly because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene-related problems

Globally, at least 2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Although Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to provide water and sanitation access for everyone by 2030, much progress still needs to be made in order to meet the goal. More than half of the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation, like latrines and toilets, while at least 1.7 billion people use a drinking water source that has microbial contamination.


Girls and boys are often the most impacted when access to clean water is difficult or where there is a lack of good hygiene and sanitation facilities. Diarrhea is both preventable and treatable, yet 446,000 children under the age of five die each year due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. In conflict zones, children are nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal disease than from the conflict itself.


Six in 10 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. By using basic WASH interventions, many more lives can be saved.


Even as progress is made, deep inequalities related to water and sanitation on regional and national levels remain. Globally, 2.3 billion people do not have a handwashing facility with soap and water at home. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the lack of water is more prevalent, women and girls often must walk more than 30 minutes to get water—a burden that also puts their health and safety at risk.


These disparities are compounded by growing challenges brought on by political instability, economic crises and climate change. Estimates project that over 140 million people will be forced to migrate within their countries by 2050 because of climate change, adding strain to inadequate water and sanitation facilities, if they exist at all.

Schools worldwide lack basic WASH services

A UNICEF report on the state of water, sanitation and hygiene in school settings found half of all schools do not have basic hygiene services, while a third of all primary schools lack basic sanitation and water. Some 802 million children do not have a proper handwashing facility with soap and water at school.


Women and girls are uniquely affected by poor sanitation. At least 500 million women and girls are lacking a safe, clean, private facility to manage their menstrual hygiene, which affects girls’ education. A World Bank meta-analysis found that one in four adolescent girls in India did not attend school during menstruation because of inadequate toilets.

Investing in WASH has broad benefits to society

About half of healthcare facilities do not have hand-washing facilities where patients are treated. This deficiency can increase the spread of germs and bacteria, potentially exposing patients and healthcare professionals to preventable disease or illness. A WHO study calculated a global return of US$5.50 for every dollar spent on 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 and 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 socioeconomic margins—often women and girls. Our water, sanitation and hygiene programs take place in both fragile and stable settings.


At the household and community levels, WASH services are developed by residents in collaboration with NGOs, governments, the private sector and donors. The resulting water projects 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 participating on water management committees, often as leaders of the committees.


At the systemic level, we collaborate with local health authorities to support better access to WASH services, which are essential when providing basic healthcare to girls and boys. 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 fragile contexts, we provide gender-responsive WASH services among populations affected by disasters 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 2023, $36.5 million was invested in 70 programs that focused primarily on water, sanitation and hygiene approaches, reaching 206,173 girls, 203,421 boys, 318,060 women and 305,190 men.

A change in how we categorize projects and programs has greatly affected WASH’s portfolio share. Many projects in long-term development that previously were categorized as Health are now being categorized as WASH. This is due to those projects’ immediate activities being primarily water and/or sanitation-related. But since WASH’s outcomes are ultimately related to disease prevention, the overlap is expected.


This year our focus was on building and improving sanitation facilities. We saw a surge in these numbers while the construction of water sources declined after last year’s increase. This trend has been particularly strong in our long-term development projects in Tanzania and Niger, and through our new partnership with other World Vision offices to bring forward change in Zambia through the Zambia WASH program.


In our work with crisis response and fragile contexts where the primary focus was on WASH, our largest investment was on the Syrian and Türkiye Earthquake Response to support affected girls, boys, women and men through a multisectoral assistance grant. We also continue to support the Lebanon sustained humanitarian response in partnership with UNICEF through the Lebanon WASH Lot 6 grant; and the Sudan sustained humanitarian response through the CAP 2021 grant in partnership with Global Affairs Canada.


Other new responses include Mozambique’s Cyclone Freddy response and support for the 2022 West Java earthquake response in Indonesia. These important partnerships bring stakeholders together and allow us to leverage our expertise on the ground through our rapid and continuous responses as we continue striving to leave no child behind.

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.


A young girl smiles for the camera as she washes her hands at a wash station.

In her community in Bangladesh, Falguni’s experience of stigma and shame around her menstrual cycle isn’t unique. It’s prevalent in her village and other places around the world. Difficulties managing menstrual hygiene even cause girls like Falguni to miss school. An awareness and education project called Youth Empowered, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, is helping change that situation. Using a variety of methods, Youth Empowered works with adolescent girls in WASH and menstrual hygiene management to improve school attendance.

Read more(link opens in new tab/window)
A woman and a young girl crouch at a tap to wash their hands.

According to the World Health Organization, one in three people globally can’t access safe drinking water. Without clean water close to home, breaking out of poverty is highly unlikely. Ensuring children have access to clean water is one of World Vision’s top solutions to poverty. Safe water close to home can protect children from water-borne diseases, and free them from long, often dangerous treks to fetch water.

Read more(link opens in new tab/window)
A woman in a blue World Vision vest pours water over the hands of a small girl to help her wash.

Water and conflict share a close relationship and impact children the most. In conflict zones water and sanitation facilities are often very far from children’s tents or shelters. This leaves children open to attack, especially when making the journey after dark. Other dangers abound, including the destruction of water sources and water systems falling into disrepair.

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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 2022 and September 2023, 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.