Poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions cause nearly 90% of all deaths from diarrhoea, mainly in children.

Residents in crowded urban communities are exposed to serious health risks from inadequate facilities. In fact, child mortality in slums is higher than in other urban, or rural areas.

In overcrowded urban schools, diseases can spread fast.

Contamination from poorly managed sanitation rapidly spreads into the water system, moving the problem from one particular community and into the wider urban environment.

Even richer residents are not immune, for example when they eat vegetables irrigated by water mixed with sewage.

But we can make a difference.

Increasing access to safe water, improving management of sanitation waste and ensuring that people practice better hygiene can improve the health and well-being of the poorest urban residents.

Protecting the most vulnerable against Covid-19

Continuous water supply and good hygiene are crucial lines of defence against the virus. We’re working with communities, service providers and governments to help tackle the crisis.

Read: April 2020 – Covid-19 and crowded urban settlements: how can we stop the spread?

Learn more about our Covid-19 response

Handwashing station in Accra, Ghana

Reducing health risks from poorly managed sanitation

In urban areas, large quantities of faecal waste are dumped illegally by informal providers, contaminating the environment and posing a public health risk. Affordable services for collecting and treating faecal waste results in cleaner and healthier communities and urban ecosystems.

Blog: November 2019 – A vision of a Green City: can improved sanitation help?

Decreasing dependence on unsafe water

Untreated water can pose a serious threat to health and can be linked to diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Increased access to safe water delivered as part of a regulated citywide service can help low-income residents to life healthier lives.

Blog: May 2020 – Delegated Management Models: ensuring service delivery at a local level

Mtendere East Water Trust

Promoting behaviour change to improve health

Poor hygiene practices, such as not washing hands with soap, are major contributors to ill health and the spread of disease, particularly amongst children. Hygiene education and the promotion of handwashing with soap are highly cost-effective ways to prevent diseases.

Blog: October 2019 – Clean Hands for All: addressing handwashing disparities