Four facts you didn't know about water this World Water Week | ActionAid UK

How much water do you need to survive? How many people don't have access to water?  It's World Water Week, and everyone is talking about water. Here are four top facts you need to know about water, and how ActionAid is helping communities gain access to it. 

Wuya, 9, collects water from a local stream in Sierra Leone.
Wuya, 9, collects water from a local stream in Sierra Leone.

1. Access to clean water and sanitation is a human right

The UN has declared that access to clean water is a human right. But it's more than that - water is at the basis of other fundamental human rights too, like access to food and to education.


ActionAid supports communities who are fighting for their rights to clean water, such as Samda's, in IndiaOur partners helped Samda and her community to put pressure on their local government to provide them with running drinking water. After six months of intense lobbying, the council provided the pipes, the material and the money for wages need to hire local people to build their own water distribution system.

2. One in nine people don't have access to safe water

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone should have 50 to 100 litres of water per day to meet their most basic needs. But 750 million people around the world don't have safe water available to them, people like Israa.

Israa (not her real name), 13-year-old Syrian refugee, collecting water.

Israa (not her real name), 13, fled from Syria to Jordan with her family. She now lives in a small prefabricated unit in the Zaatari Refugee Camp with her parents and five brothers and sisters. She says: “The sun is very hot here. The toilets are bad, the water is horrible.” ActionAid is working with some of the most vulnerable refugees in the camp, providing urgently needed items like soap, shampoo and washing powder.

3. More than half of primary schools in developing countries don't have adequate water facilities

Nearly two thirds of these primary schools lack adequate sanitation. For many girls, this means missing out on school when they have their periodActress Emilia Fox recently visited Ethiopia with ActionAid. She went to Annaso school, which currently has shared toilets and no clean water.

Emilia Fox visits ActionAid Ethiopia

"A lot of the girls felt embarrassed about using the mixed loo so many of them didn't attend school," she explains, "particularly when they were menstruating. It’s estimated that one in 10 girls in Africa will miss school when they are on their period." ActionAid is helping build a new school which will have separate toilet facilities for boys and girls to improve children's privacy and hygiene.

4. Diarrhoea kills an estimated 842,000 people every year

That's approximately 2,300 people every single day globally. Diarrhoea is caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene.  Daw Maw, from Myanmar, knows the danger of dirty water all too well.

Daw Maw, who lives in Myanmar, lost one of her children to a water-borne disease.

She lost one of her children when he was only nine months old due to a water-borne disease, all because her village doesn't have a clean water supply. ActionAid is supporting her community to deal with these challenges. Her dream is for her three surviving children is to go to university.

Water really can be the difference between life or death. By supporting our work providing water to communities you could help families living in refugee camps; you could help a child go to school; you could help save lives. 

Donate to help provide clean water to people living in poverty


Photos: William Davies, Vasso Balou, Greg Funnell, Jenny Matthews /ActionAid