A new water treatment facility in Arua District, Uganda, started pumping over 400,000 litres of water a day from the Nile River into storage tanks, where it is filtered, treated and tested for quality, before being trucked to nearby Rhino Camp, currently home to 86,000 refugees. At capacity, the plant will treat 1 million litres of potable water per day. Pictures: Tommy Trenchard. Read more about this project.

Water, sanitation and good hygiene: vital components in our global cholera response

Water, sanitation and good hygiene practices are fundamental to healthy life. Our collective aim is to ensure every family has affordable and sustainable access to safe water and adequate sanitation. Despite major progress in this ambition over recent years, the poorest and most vulnerable, especially in countries where government or infrastructure is dysfunctional, still suffer with inadequate facilities. And we know that this is a major factor which causes death or poor health, reduces productivity, impacts upon nutrition and undermines personal dignity.

For example, the provision of safe water and adequate sanitation have been vital in the response to cholera and, as shown in large scale cholera eradication efforts such as in Mexico in the 1990s, tackling this one disease leads to a massive reduction – by more than half – in overall diarrhoeal disease rates. This informs our approach to fighting current outbreaks of cholera and preventing future ones. The best way to deal with present and future epidemics is to bring water and sanitation coverage up to adequate levels, while also working with people and communities to raise awareness of good hygiene practices. It is our first, and perhaps most effective, intervention. Of course, the people most vulnerable to cholera outbreaks are often the poorest.

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Recent stories

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In the Ewaso Ngiro river basin, central Kenya, families have begun digging in the dry riverbed for water. If the arid weather continues, many fear they’ll have to begin destocking their cattle.

6 April 2017
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As of this week, a new Red Cross water treatment facility in Arua District started pumping over 400,000 litres of water a day from the Nile River into storage tanks, where it is filtered, treated and tested for quality, before being trucked to nearby Rhino Camp, currently home to 86,000 refugees.

24 March 2017
A community event on world water day in Zahle; Lebanon. Syrian Refugee children are invited to spend the day with the Lebanese Red Cross volunteers. The theme of the day is Water and through the full day the children do different activities that disseminate different hygiene promotion messages related to the theme of the day

Promotion of good hygiene with children living in informal settlements and refugee camps is an area where the Lebanese Red Cross disaster management unit has been particularly active

22 March 2017
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Over 15 million people have gained access to safe water and sanitation since 2005 as a result of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Global Water and Sanitation Initiative (GWSI). The plan aims to reach a further 15 million people by 2025.

22 March 2017

100 per cent coverage is coming, slowly

At the current rate of improvement, Wateraid estimates that all people in the world will have access to adequate water and sanitation facilities by the year 2057, 27 years behind schedule. The World Health Organization estimates that one newborn baby dies every minute from infection caused by a lack of safe water and an unclean environment.

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40 per cent of the world has access to a toilet

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91 per cent has access to safe water

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Globally 66 per cent of schools have adequate toilet facilities

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81 per cent of people living in urban settings have access to a good toilet

Sustainable development goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015, and call for access to clean water and good sanitation facilities to cover 100 per cent of the world’s population.

Water

  • 1990 76%
  • 2012 89%
  • 2015 91%

Sanitation

  • 1990 49%
  • 2012 64%
  • 2015 68%