Top 10 Global Water Crisis Facts: Here’s What You Need to Know

The consequences of unsafe water and poor sanitation are far-reaching, impacting health, education, economic productivity, and the dignity of those living in extreme poverty.

In 1993, the United Nations established World Water Day to bring awareness to the importance and management of freshwater sources. Today, the UN Sustainable Development Goal #6 aims to bring an end to the crisis, with safe water and sanitation for all, by 2030.

Governments, NGOs, and communities themselves have made great strides in the past 20 years. Through their efforts, the number of people drinking from ponds, rivers, swamps, and contaminated springs has been cut in half. [1]

Learn the top water crisis facts today, and discover how you can help bring an end to it in our lifetime.


10 Water Crisis Facts

  1. 800 million people around the world are without basic water access. That’s more than twice the population of the United States. [2]
  2. More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. [3]
  3. 2.3 billion people, or nearly 1 in 3, lack access to a toilet. [4]
  4. Diarrheal diseases, caused primarily by unsafe water and poor sanitation, kill more children under 5 years old than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined. [5]
  5. Diarrheal disease kills one child every 60 seconds. [6]
  6. Unsafe water and poor sanitation cause repeated bouts of diarrheal disease, which causes malnutrition, weakens the immune system, and makes other illnesses more likely. This makes diarrheal diseases one of the most deadly illnesses in developing countries. [7]
  7. In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend an estimated 40 billions hours a year collecting water. [8]
  8. The latest data suggest that as many as 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. [9]
  9. Lost time gathering water significantly reduces productive farming time for women in parts of the developing world. With safe water nearby, it’s estimated that women could feed 150 million of the world’s hungry. [10]
  10. For every $1 invested in safe water and sanitation, a yield of $5 to $28 USD is returned in increased economic activity and reduced health care costs. [11]

Water crisis facts

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The problem is immense but entirely preventable. For over 40 years, people like you have helped reduce these numbers by partnering with water-poor communities to create transformation.

When you sponsor a village water project with Lifewater, you’ll meet real families battling the water crisis in remote villages in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. Receive real-time updates from the village you’re helping and celebrate progress.

This World Water Day, let’s make a difference together.


[1] The World Bank, Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day: 2015 Update

[2] WHO/UNICEF Join Monitoring Programme, Drinking Water 2000 and 2015 comparison: 2015 Update 

[3] World Health Organization (WHO), Top 10 Leading Causes of Death: 2018 Update

[4] World Health Organization (WHO), Sanitation Key Facts: 2018 Update 

[5] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Diarrhea: Common Illness, Global Killer

[6] Ibid.

[7] World Health Organization (WHo), Drinking-water Key Facts: 2018 Update

[8] UN Women, Collecting and Carrying Water, burdensome reality for women: 2014 Update

[9] Ibid.

[10] The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015, Water for a Sustainable World: 2015 Update

[11] Ibid.

Choose a Village. Change a Life.