Access to clean water is a basic human right and a prerequisite for health. Yet even as we recognize World Water Day today, March 22, an estimated 780 million people around the world (WHO/UNICEF) – roughly two-and-a-half times the U.S. population – lack access to safe water. At any given time, almost half of all people living in developing countries are suffering from a health problem caused by lack of safe water and sanitation. 

View images showing how water affects patients in communities served by PIH, and PIH's work to provide clean, safe water to these communities:

View full screen

Diseases spread by unsafe water cause 3 million deaths a year , disproportionately affecting young children. Diarrhea, primarily a disease of dirty water, is the biggest killer of children under five in poor countries, resulting in nearly 3,000 preventable deaths each day – more than 2 deaths every minute, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Water projects are one of the most effective ways of saving lives and one of the most cost-effective investments in disease prevention. Potable water projects typically reduce diarrheal disease by upwards of 50 percent, with even higher reductions during water-borne epidemics, such as cholera and typhoid.

At PIH project sites, clinicians and community health workers evaluate patients’ needs and identify those who require water support for drinking, medications, sanitation, and agriculture. Water is the most basic necessity of life. Because of this, PIH partners with organizations to build wells, water pumps, and latrines in many of the communities where we work across the globe. 

Learn more about PIH’s water projects.
PIH is also leading the fight against cholera in Haiti, learn how.