In most parts of the U.S., we don’t think twice about turning on the faucet or hopping in the shower. With infrastructure in place, it’s incredibly easy to forget that public utilities, engineering, and coordination enable access to fresh water for millions of Americans every day. But this kind of infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain, especially in parts of the world where governments are just beginning to prioritize water for their people.
Worldwide, 844 million people do not have access to clean water, UNICEF estimates. WaterAid, a global nonprofit is working to change this.
Established in 1981 by members of the U.K. water industry, WaterAid works to close the gap globally on access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (referred to as “WASH” for short). The organization is now bringing water resources to communities in 28 countries, on three different continents.
“The emphasis was really on water supply in the early days, then coming on to sanitation and how to do that effectively, and now hygiene is a big focus, so it’s an integrated approach,” said Vincent Casey, WaterAid senior manager for water, sanitation and hygiene.
Access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene is crucial not only for daily life but also for health. Every two minutes, diarrhea caused by dirty water or poor toilets kills a child under five years old. Casey says this is why WaterAid also focuses on toilets and hygiene practices in the communities where it works. Clean water alone does not impact the disease burden that exposed human waste can have on a community.
Read the full story about how WaterAid is working towards clean water for all by Arielle Dreher at Global Washington.