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Worldwide Water Facts
June 29, 2006

  • At any one time, more than half the poor of the developing world are ill from causes related to hygiene, sanitation and water supply.
  • The majority of illness in the world is caused by fecal matter
  • A billion people live a life without safe, plentiful water; to drink, to wash hands, face and body, to wash and rinse clothes, to brush teeth, to cook food, and to clean homes and kitchens.
  • 2.5 billion live a life without a clean, private place to defecate and urinate. Instead they use fields, streams, rivers, railway lines, canal banks, roadsides, plastic bags, waste-paper or squalid foul-smelling disease breeding buckets and unsanitary latrines.
  • One gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1 thousand parasite cysts, and a hundred worm eggs.
  • In most developing countries only about one percent to two percent of government spending goes to low cost water and sanitation. More is spent on high-cost services for the few than on low-cost services for the many.
  • The costs for water supply and sanitation technologies has fallen sharply over the last 20 years. But they have still not reached the poorest.
  • An additional 800 million people are expected to migrate to urban areas of the developing world over the next 15 years.
  • Taps and toilets will not improve health on their own. Better hygiene is what matters. And that means making the HYGIENE CODE a part of normal everyday behavior in every family and community.

Source: Global Water Foundation

United Nations

GWF Echoing and Aiding Water Goals

The Millennium Development Goals

In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. Placed at the heart of the global agenda, they are now called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Summit's Millennium Declaration also outlined a wide range of commitments in human rights, good governance and democracy.

The MDGs provide a framework for the entire UN system to work coherently together towards a common end. The world is making progress toward the MDGs - but it is uneven and too slow. A large majority of nations will reach the MDGs only if they get substantial support - advocacy, expertise and resources - from outside. The challenges for the global community, in both the developed and developing world, are to mobilize financial support and political will, re-engage governments, re-orient development priorities and policies, build capacity and reach out to partners in civil society and the private sector.

There are eight Millennium Development Goals:

  1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
  2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
  3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  4. Reduce Child Mortality
  5. Improve Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases
  7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development
  • The Global Water Foundation was formed to directly address and impact those initiatives related to providing safe, healthy drinking water and adequate sanitation in areas where it is not available or where accessibility and supply have been compromised.

World Health Organization

Water resources development
  • The development of water resources continues at an accelerated pace to meet the food, fiber and energy needs of a world population of eight billion by 2025.
  • Lack of capacity for health impact assessment transfers hidden costs to the health sector and increases the disease burden on local communities.
  • Environmental management approaches for health need to be incorporated into strategies for integrated water resources management.

Emergencies and disasters

  • Almost two billion people were affected by natural disasters in the last decade of the 20th century, 86 percent of them by floods and droughts.
  • Flooding increases the ever-present health threat from contamination of drinking-water systems from inadequate sanitation, with industrial waste and by refuse dumps.
  • Droughts cause the most ill-health and death because they often trigger and exacerbate malnutrition and famine, and deny access to adequate water supplies.
  • Disaster management requires a continuous chain of activities that includes prevention, preparedness, emergency response, relief and recovery.


Access to Clean Water

Two buckets of safe water a day - 20 litres - is the bare minimum a child needs to live. This is enough for drinking and eating, washing and basic sanitation. But some 4000 children die every day, because they simply don't have access to an adequate supply of clean water.


In Sub-Saharan Africa, 43 percent of children drink unsafe water and one in five die before their fifth birthday. A lack of clean water and basic sanitation is responsible for 1.6 million preventable child deaths each year. Millions more children suffer from waterborne illnesses, such as typhoid, worms and diarrhea.

Only 58 percent of the world's population has access to improved sanitation facilities. A total of 2.6 billion people live without improved sanitation - less than half of all people living in developing countries. The lowest coverage rates are in sub-Saharan Africa (36 percent) and South Asia (37 percent). In some countries, such as Afghanistan and Ethiopia, less than ten percent of the population has access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Principal transmission routes of disease

Waterbased disease transmission by drinking contaminated water is responsible for significant outbreaks of fecal-oral diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and include diarrhea, viral hepatitis A, cholera, dysentery and dracunculiasis (Guineaworm disease).

Water-washed disease occurs when there is a lack of sufficient quantity for washing and personal hygiene, which facilitates, among others, the spread of skin and eye infections, e.g. trachoma.

Diarrhea is the most important public health problem affected by water and sanitation and can be both waterborne and water-washed. Hygiene promotion, which includes the simple act of washing hands with soap and water, can prevent one third of diarrheal disease and is therefore key in the prevention of waterborne diseases.

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