< Back

Introduction to the WASH Campaign

Water is the foundation of everything, but millions don’t have access to this basic human right, which has serious ramifications for their survival. Here we examine the human cost of inadequate WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene).

Water is the essential cog in the apparatus of our most fundamental human needs. In developed countries, clean water is readily available. It breathes life into everything. Every living being on earth depends on water for its survival. Our food, our bodies, our teeth, our hands - all that we consume has been touched or brought into existence by water. At the turn of a tap, we have access to the life force of humanity and the key to longevity, health and prosperity.

Access to water and sanitation are recognised by the United Nations as human rights. In the West, we’re so accustomed to water security that it’s hard to imagine life without it, yet for 785 million people, life without access to clean water is a daily reality. 1 in 10 people wakes up every day with the burden of sourcing water (WHO/UNICEF, 2019), which may not even be safe to drink. All too often, they face the daily conundrum of dehydration, and the exhaustion and weakness that comes with it, or drinking contaminated water which increases their exposure to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, hepatitis and typhoid.

The wider implications of poor WASH

The impact of this scarcity in water, sanitation and hygiene extends far beyond dehydration and disease. In fact, both of these issues catalyse more prolonged suffering, seeping into wellbeing, productivity, food security and gender equality. People still have to work and conduct their daily tasks while battling the exhaustion and pain of their bodies crying out for water. With already limited sources of food, people have no choice but to eat produce that’s been saturated with dirty water, which has life-threatening implications. For children, malnourished people, and those with compromised immune systems, water-induced diseases can be fatal. Every minute, a newborn child dies from an infection caused by the consumption of unsafe water and living in an unsanitary environment (WHO, 2015). Climate-induced droughts and floods are also set to significantly reduce the availability of water. Flooding threatens to destroy / contaminate water stations, and droughts caused by rising temperatures are exacerbating the scarcity of already limited water sources.

WASH and gender inequality in low-middle income countries

The repercussions for women and girls are even more severe. The fabric of daily life for women in developing countries is stitched together with gendered expectations, fewer opportunities than their male counterparts, and unaccommodated bodily needs. Under the scorching sun, women are expected to embark on long, dangerous journeys to water sources where they’re exposed to assault, and have to carry heavy loads back to their families. Time spent travelling to these sources is time spent away from their jobs, education and community work, putting personal development and future prospects at risk. This, coupled with limited washing facilities and public gender-segregated toilets, contributes to the absenteeism of teenage girls in school, particularly when they are menstruating. Without WASH, universal education is difficult to attain. The consequence of this is that women and girls end up being stuck in a cycle of poverty that is exceptionally difficult for them to escape without an education.

The impact of COVID-19 on WASH

Given the spread of coronavirus and the importance of washing your hands as the first-line of defence, this absence of adequate washing facilities increases people’s risk of contracting the virus. For 3 billion people (2 in 5) who don’t have their own bathroom at home (UNICEF, 2019), washing your hands regularly isn’t easy. Hand hygiene also helps protect against other viruses and bacteria, thereby reducing the prevalence of disease. The World Bank claims that promoting good hygiene is one of the most cost-effective health interventions.

Charities fighting for sustainable safe water solutions

We’re proud to be partnered with some of the life-changing charities working at a grassroots level to provide safe water solutions, sanitation facilities, and knowledge of safe hygiene practices. Since 1998, Just a Drop’s work has reached over 1.6 million people in 32 countries including Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia and India. Their projects focus on constructing wells, pipelines, dams, and rainwater harvesting systems, transforming lives with sustainable water infrastructure. We also work with the Busoga Trust who construct and rehabilitate broken water sources for Ugandan communities. They train local people on how to maintain local water sources, creating a new class of professionals who can sustain this water source for generations to come. The resources these charities provide inject health and hygiene into communities that have been starved of basic needs for generations. They’re not just saving lives, they’re enriching them by laying one of the essential stepping stones to long-term prosperity.

How you can join the WASH campaign

Interested in joining the WASH movement? The now-u app gives you all the tools you need to become an active participant in the fight for clean, safe water worldwide. You can learn about the central WASH issues, discover how to raise money for high-impact organisations, petition governments to send additional aids, and call on companies to do their bit to bring clean water to every citizen of the world. Download the app today to start working towards a world where water and hygiene are non-negotiable.

Blog Image

Emma Mulholland

Full-time copywriter with a background in digital communications. In her spare time, she does comms work for several charities, and can be found reading, doing yoga, playing video games or tending to plants.

download app from apple store
download app from apple store

Community Interest Company (12709184) and Charitable Incorporated Organisation (1196568)