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Water & Sanitation


“More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. These deaths are an affront to our common humanity, and undermine the efforts of many countries to achieve their development potential.”

-Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General, United Nations March 22, 2010

According to the latest UN reports, 1 in 9, or 783 million, people around the world lack access to clean water. And though the Millennium Development Goal target of improving water access by 2015 has been met ahead of schedule, there are still millions of people who lack access. More than just quenching thirst, clean water prevents water-borne diseases like diarrhea, cholera and dysentery, all potentially fatal conditions in the developing world. One in five child deaths, 1.5 million each year, are due to water-related illness.

In the developing world, women in particular bear the brunt of the lack of availability to clean and safe water. Charged with transporting water, women and girls often walk miles per day to fetch water. And, each time a woman sets out for a distant water source, she runs the risk of encountering violence along the way. Reliable access to clean, close water reduces that risk, empowers women with the time and security to invest in family and community development and gives girls the opportunity to attend school.

Moreover, with 70 percent of the world’s fresh water supply devoted to agriculture, effective water conservation techniques are essential. Over 75 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and are dependent primarily on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood. The well-being of these smallholder farmers is closely tied to the natural environment, highly vulnerable to environmental destruction, water shortages and climate change.

The Hunger Project works to empower rural communities to ensure increased access to clean water and improved sanitation, the development of new water resources, and the implementation of water conservation techniques.

And, it works. Investing in safe water has high returns: studies show that for every US$1 invested, there is a projected US$3-34 gained — with benefits ranging from time savings and productivity gains to budget savings on national healthcare (UN Water 2010).


What We Do

  • Building Capacity: Establishing water project boards made up of community leaders who are trained by experts on how to monitor, maintain and repair water systems; training people in the use and repair of water pumps and generators; and training a core of local leaders in water safety and purification so they can lead workshops throughout the community and expand grassroots knowledge.
  • Developing New Sustainable Water Sources: Empowering local communities to drill new wells and boreholes and repair existing ones; build and repair water towers; and construct water troughs for livestock. In Mexico in 2014, over 300 people participated in community projects to improve access to water.
  • Ensuring a Reliable Supply of Clean Water: Providing equipment and training for testing and pumping water; empowering communities to build and repair latrines in homes, schools and public spaces; and lobbying local governments to devote public resources to water infrastructure projects.
  • Implementing Water Conservation Techniques: Mobilizing communities to initiate drip irrigation projects, which minimize the use of water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, and to develop water catchment systems, which collect rainwater from a roof or other surface before it reaches the ground and store it for future use.
  • Sanitation Programs: Good hygiene is more than a convenience, water borne illness is a leading cause of childhood deaths around the world. The Hunger Project trainings and capacity building projects improve living conditions and save lives. In Africa in 2014, 961 latrines were constructed, installed, or rehabilitated.