The Global Water Crisis Is a Real Threat & Is Expected to Grow

The United Nations reports the global water crisis is at the core of sustainable development; and solving the problem is critical for socio-economic development, energy and food production, healthy ecosystems and human survival itself. They explain water is at the heart of adaptation to climate change and serves as the crucial link between society and the environment. 

Right now two billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 3.6 billion lack safely managed sanitation services. Other water-related challenges include: 

  • Almost 2 billion people depend on health care facilities without basic water services (WHO/UNICEF 2020)
  • UNICEF reports 480,000 children under the age of five die each year due to diarrheal disease, primarily prevented with simple sanitation, hygiene, and safe water access. 
  • About 10% of the global population already lives in countries with high or critical water stress (UN 2019)
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend 40 billion hours annually collecting water or equivalent to a year’s worth of labor by the entire workforce of France. 

* These numbers may have changed since this document was written. Please visit the World Health Organizations website for up-to-date information.

The 2023 edition of the UN World Water Development Report states by 2050 the global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to potentially double from 930 million people in 2016 to between 1.7 and 2.4 billion if nothing is done to address the crisis. The report underscores the importance of building partnerships and cooperation in order to realize the human right to water and overcome existing challenges. Another concerning matter is the rising incidences of life-threatening, prolonged droughts, which stress ecosystems, and have dire consequences for people, plants and animals.

It is estimated more than 11% of the global population does not have access to the most basic level of safe, clean drinking water. Too many must drink water exposed to harmful pathogens or are forced to walk far distances to access clean water. Also many of these same communities do not have access to proper sanitation and hygiene practices. 

Unfortunately it is children who suffer the most. A recent analysis from the UN children’s agency, UNICEF reports, “190 million children in 10 African countries are at the highest risk from a convergence of three water-related threats – inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); related diseases; and climate hazards.” The three components of WASH are grouped together because of their interdependence; as one cannot be fully realized without the other two. 

The failure to provide essential services for the most basic needs of children causes an estimated 443 million school days to be lost each year due to water-related illnesses; and tragically causes the deaths of 1,000 children every day. When children are given access to safe, clean water; sanitation and hygiene, it can virtually eliminate waterborne diseases as well as ensure human dignity.

Lifewater International is a Christian water charity organization founded over 46 years ago by William A. Ashe. Affirming Bill’s vision, Lifewater believes every child and family deserves access to safe, clean water and seeks to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world’s most marginalized communities. We are compelled by The Great Commission (Matthew 28) to serve the least, the lost, and the last. 

While the majority of communities still lacking access to clean water are, for a number of reasons, difficult to serve, Lifewater has committed to serving those communities. Currently our projects are concentrated in rural areas in Ethiopia, Uganda, Cambodia, and Tanzania.  

To aid us on this mission, we are blessed to have a staff comprised of eager professionals, disciplined dreamers, and humble teammates. While our offices span four countries on three different continents, we are all working toward the same thing—for every child to have safe water, a healthy home for every family and the love of Christ for all. We approach global problems with local solutions for lasting impact, and are inquisitive thinkers who are eager to grow, learn, explore and innovate with each project. 

Before beginning work in a district, the Lifewater staff gathers information about the region’s water coverage and topography as well as gets to know the people; as experience has taught us real transformation can only come from within a community. Overcoming the water crisis means everyone in the community must be involved – from the grandmothers enforcing healthy habits in the village, to the children eager to learn, to local churches, and to the donors who give generously to make it all possible. When we walk together in partnership with one another, long-term change is realized. 

Each of Lifewater’s projects is much more than just a well. Improved sanitation and hygiene makes it possible for parents to go to work and children to go to school. Investing in clean water stirs economic development, increases community incomes, and creates more jobs. Local involvement ensures safe water sources last for generations to come. A 2012 WHO study found for every US $1 invested in improved sanitation, it translated into an average global economic return of US $5.5. 

With over 2.5 million people served, we continue to work hard to end the global water and sanitation crisis. Whether you decide to sponsor a project, make a one-time donation, dedicate a donation in honor or in memory of someone, or make provisions for a legacy gift, you can create lasting change. Our monthly donors allow us to plan ahead and construct lasting safe water sources to reach every child. A monthly gift of as little as $65 serves one person with safe water every month.   

You can give with confidence to Lifewater International knowing your contribution will change someone’s life. We are a top-rated charity in the United States and are endorsed by independent reporting organizations, including Guidestar, ECFA, and Charity Navigator. It is our honor to serve all people regardless of religion, listening first and walking alongside community members as neighbors. Please give safe water today and help us eradicate this crisis village by village. 

Choose a Village. Change a Life.