844 Million People Around the World Can't Access Clean Drinking Water
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Livable Planet

844 Million People Around the World Can't Access Clean Drinking Water

Here are the most effective organizations fighting for clean water worldwide.
November 16, 2017, 4:30pm

Clean, safe drinking water should be a basic human right, but unfortunately there are still massive segments of the global population that lack water and sanitation. According to the World Health Organization, 844 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water. Sanitation is a large part of this problem, and one in three people across the globe use a drinking water source that has been contaminated with feces. As a result, waterborne disease is a serious global issue, with over 289,000 children dying every year from diarrhea caused by a contaminated water supply.


Fortunately, there are many global charities that are committed to eradicating the world’s water crisis, and bringing vital solutions to communities in need. But these groups need help from people like you to carry out their important missions, which is why VICE Impact has rounded up some of the most effective organizations that are fighting for real change in this arena, and saving lives across the globe.


Global nonprofit WaterAid has set an ambitious goal for itself: to ensure that everyone across the world has clean drinking water and sanitation by the year 2030. To achieve this goal, WaterAid works on two main fronts: both directly supplying poor communities with the water services they need, and then on a larger legislative level, working to influence local governments and implement policy that will lead to sustainable water and sanitation solutions.

WaterAid has supplied 23 million people across 36 countries with access to clean water and sanitation. The organization starts by engaging local nonprofit partners to understand the needs of individual communities, and works to establish water systems tailored to that community’s specific needs. They also educate poor communities about the importance of hygiene and clean water, encouraging them to become self-advocating.

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And finally, WaterAid works with local governments to ensure that sustainable, systemic change occurs, and that these individuals will have clean and safe drinking water for years to come. To get involved, you can join WaterAid’s mailing list, or donate to the organization here.


Many organizations that work to bring clean water to communities in need, approach the issue by constructing wells and supplying fresh water. But leading global nonprofit Water.org has a slightly different approach: they provide microcredit loans—a term for very small loans often used to alleviate extreme poverty in developing nations—in order to empower people to build their own water supply projects. These loans, which the organization calls WaterCredit, are easily repayable, and allow poor families to make a larger, immediate investment in building a safe water supply, that will save them money in the long run.

For example, Water.org’s unique model had profound impact at Abusha Day School in Uganda. Through a microcredit loan, the school was able to finance the installation of water taps with clean water, toilets and even showers for the students. The loan was quickly repaid, using some student tuition money, and allowed the school to not only provide the students with a healthy learning environment, but also teach them valuable lessons about hygiene. Stories like this are just the beginning: overall, Water.org has helped more than 7 million people across the globe secure safe and clean drinking water. To help Water.org with their important mission, you can donate here.


Approximately 4,500 children die every day from lack of clean drinking water, and water-related illness. This staggering number can only be reduced through aggressive measures, which is why the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has made clean water a major priority. UNICEF’s overall mission is to protect the rights of children around the world, which is why UNICEF spent over $96.3 million dollars in 2015 on bringing water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to communities in need.

If children are uniquely vulnerable to water-related illness and death, they are also uniquely suited to help prevent it. According to UNICEF’s extensive research, teaching sanitation to kids in school is not only an effective way to increase sanitation within schools, it also enhances sanitation at home when children bring these sanitation methods to their families.

Access to clean water also helps increase the amount of time children spend in schools, as often it is children who are tasked with time-consuming chores of walking to water supplies and waiting to collect water. As a result, UNICEF’s water-related efforts to save children are also saving their families. To take action, you can donate, volunteer your time, or even search for a career with the world renowned organization.

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is a global charity that brings together Rotary’s network of over 1.2 million volunteers, to address some of our world’s most crucial humanitarian issues. The Rotary Foundation is one of the earth’s most powerful and impactful charitable organizations, tackling issues like fighting disease, growing local economies in developing nations, supporting education, promoting peace and providing clean drinking water to people across the globe. The Rotary Foundation has made a significant impact in the arena of water and sanitation, and thus far has provided over 23 million people with safe, drinkable water.

Rotary’s approach is unique, in that they aren’t simply just building wells—they are also creating programs that teach children about water, sanitation and hygiene. Among its many initiatives, Rotary has teamed up with UNICEF for the WASH in Schools Target Challenge, to develop educational projects that teach children about basic hygiene, sanitation, and provide them with clean, safe drinking water.

The program’s pilot phase will last until July 2020, and run in five countries that are ramping up their school sanitation efforts: India, Guatemala, Belize, Kenya, and Honduras. To help The Rotary Foundation with this or any of their many charitable efforts, you can join the Rotary Club today, or make a donation to help ensure clean water and sanitation for all.

Charity: Water

Poverty, water scarcity, education and local politics all play a role in clean water access—with rural communities in developing nations among the most vulnerable populations affected by lack of water. Fortunately, Charity: Water—a global nonprofit with a mission of bringing safe drinking water to these countries—is committed to solving the world’s water crisis. The organization’s work stretches across 24 countries, with over 24,537 water projects and wells funded, supplying over 7,347,032 people with clean water.

Part of Charity: Water’s success is due to its unique strategy, where it works with local partner organizations to fund programs that bring clean water to communities. Charity: Water works with these partner organizations to best determine the most effective technology to bring water to a specific area (anything from hand dug wells to advanced pipe systems), engage local residents to gain community support of the water project, and work with local governments to make sure regional leaders support new water developments. Finally, Charity: Water maintains a map of completed projects, tracking its success around the world. One hundred percent of public donations directly fund these projects, and you can make a donation here today.