Environmental Health

Speeches Shim

Bimala Chaudhary practices proper hand washing before preparing a meal for her 10-month-old daughter.
Bimala Chaudhary, 25, learned the importance of proper hand washing from a participating in Suaahara II, a USAID-supported program in Nepal. She practices proper hand washing before preparing a meal for her 10-month-old daughter, Sudikchya.
Photo Credit: Kate Consavage/USAID

Women and girls without access to toilets spend 97 billion hours each year looking for a safe place to relieve themselves, translating into hours of lost productivity.1

Currently, 2.1 billion people around the world live without access to safe drinking water, and approximately 4.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.2 By 2050, some regions could see their economic growth decline by as much as six percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of rising water pollution, increasing water demand, and dwindling water supplies and the impact on agriculture, health, and incomes.3 In addition to inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), indoor air pollution and other environmental factors are major contributors to some of the leading causes of child deaths, including pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.

USAID has helped more than 14.9 million people gain access to basic drinking water since 2012.

As a result of USAID programs in Fiscal Year 2017, more than 3.6 million people gained access to improved water, and more than 3.2 million people received improved access to sanitation facilities. These results include more than 1.7 million women and girls that have benefited from improved water services and more than 1.9 million women and girls that now have access to improved sanitation.4 USAID’s efforts to improve WASH span a wide variety of initiatives in 47 countries and regions, all guided by the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy.

In order to prevent child deaths due to lack of basic water and sanitation, USAID supports local governments and stakeholders to strengthen WASH systems at the household, community, and institutional levels to improve drinking water services, scale up area-wide basic sanitation coverage, and promote innovative approaches to enabling hygiene behavior change to prevent against water-borne disease. Additionally, USAID works to support operational research to better understand adoption and use factors related to air pollution.

USAID's Impact



For more information about how USAID solves global water and sanitation challenges, visit Global Waters. Supported by the USAID Water Office, Global Waters has the aim of fostering global knowledge and collaboration for sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene access for all, and providing water practitioners with the latest news, learnings, and resources from USAID and our partners.

1 https://www.wateraid.org/media/dirty-water-and-lack-of-safe-toilets-among-top-five-killers-of-women-worldwide

2 https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/12-07-2017-2-1-billion-people-lack-safe-drinking-water-at-home-more-than-twice-as-many-lack-safe-sanitation

3 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/newborns-reducing-mortality

4 https://www.globalwaters.org/usaid-annual-report