Access to Clean Water

Access to Clean Water

Access to clean water is fundamental for health, growth and productive societies. Yet, 2.2 bilion people worldwide can’t obtain safely managed drinking water, and more than half the population—4.2 billion people—lack sanitation services.[1]

According to the United Nations, “Water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, energy and food production, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself.”[2]

The UN has declared access to clean water and proper sanitation a human right. Its goal involves every person having 50-100 liters of safe and affordable (not costing over 3% of household income) water per day for personal and domestic use within 1,000 meters of the home.[3]

How a Lack of Clean Water Initiatives Impacts Communities

Clean water and sanitation go hand in hand. Currently, 80 percent of global wastewater returns into the ecosystem without being treated.[4]

In 2017, 673 million people were forced to openly defecate because they didn’t have proper sanitation facilities, which resulted in 1.2 billion people drinking water soiled by feces. As a result, people who gather water from rivers, lakes and the like are often exposed to disease-causing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.[5]

According to the CDC, “inadequate waste disposal drives the infection cycle of many agents that can be spread through contaminated soil, food, water and insects such as flies.”[6]

Improper sanitation transmits a variety of diseases, from cholera and intestinal worms to dysentery, hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. It also compounds stunting and malnutrition.[7]

About 297,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrheal diseases as a result of drinking contaminated water, poor sanitation and improper hygiene.[8] Overall, 829,000 people in low- and middle-income countries die from contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene every year.[9]

About 65% of diarrheal deaths — or 2.4 million a year — could be reduced with basic hygiene, clean water and sanitation.[10] For example, proper handwashing helps reduce the transmission of a host of other diseases, yet billions of people can’t properly wash their hands because they lack clean water. In 2021, WHO and UNICEF estimated three in 10 people couldn’t wash their hands with soap and water at home.[11]

Improved sanitation reduces the spread of intestinal worms and other tropical diseases that millions of people suffer from. It also reduces malnutrition and promotes dignity, safety and school attendance.[12]

Clean water and private toilets are essential for everyone, but girls and women often suffer the most from poor sanitation: They risk their safety when they defecate outside, behind bushes or street gutters, particularly at night. They need facilities “to manage menstruation and maternity in dignity and safety,” says the UN.[13] One in five girls, compared to one in six boys, of primary-school age don’t attend school, partially due to the lack of sanitation facilities for girls.[14]

Women and children also suffer the most from the inability to access clean water because they’re typically the ones who travel far distances to collect it. In doing so, they risk sexual assault.[15] In addition, children are often prevented from attending school and women are unable to earn income because of this chore. These two factors can keep families trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Water is Life

Water is often used as symbolism for things such as purification, deliverance or even salvation because water, by itself, is a lifegiving force, necessary for basic survival. The Bible repeatedly refers to water. For example, Isaiah 49:10 promises, “They shall neither hunger nor thirst, Neither heat nor sun shall strike them; For He who has mercy on them will lead them, Even by the springs of water He will guide them.” John 4:13-14 says, “Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’”

GFA World lives out these Scriptures by providing for people initiatives for clean water as a Christian organization. Through its Jesus Wells—which can deliver safe, clean drinking water to about 300 people per day—GFA World brings new life into villages. As it says in Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Get Involved with a Clean Water Project

Providing Jesus Wells, BioSand water filters and toilets are just a few of the tools GFA World distributes to offer life-saving water and sanitation to people in need.

Our wells cost under $5 per person. These clean water bore wells can provide up to 300 people with free, clean water every day for 10-20 years. Contribute a part of a Jesus Well today to help provide a community in Asia or Africa with good, clean water.

Or give the gift of dignity and health through outdoor toilets, which cost only $540.

Learn more about water solutions

[1] “Water.” United Nations. Accessed December 23, 2021.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Sanitation.” World Health Organization. June 14, 2019.
[5] “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene I 2000-2017.” WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme. Accessed December 23, 2021.
[6] “Toilets & Latrines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed December 23, 2021.
[7] “Sanitation.” World Health Organization. June 14, 2019.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] “Exploring the Gap Between Hand Washing Knowledge and Practices in Bangladesh: A Cross-Sectional Comparative Study.” By Sifat E. Rabbi and Nepal C. Dey. January 30, 2013.
[11] “Billons of People Will Lack Access to Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in 2030 Unless Progress Quadruples –  Warn WHO, UNICEF.” WHO and UNICEF. July 1, 2021.
[12]  “Sanitation.” World Health Organization. June 14, 2019.
[13] “Water.” United Nations. Accessed December 23, 2021.
[14] “The Millennium Development Goals Report.” United Nations. June 2007.
[15] Le Masson, V. “Gender and Resilience: from Therory to Practice.” ODI. Accessed December 23, 2021.