a girl with water tanks in Zambia

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Europe, Middle East and Africa

Shockingly, over 650 million people still use unimproved drinking water sources. Nearly half of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 2 billion live without sanitation, primarily in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Habitat for Humanity works to improve the water supply and cleanliness of human settlements. We also work to promote sustainable hygiene practices through initiatives often referred to as water, sanitation and hygiene or WASH programs.

WASH programs are among the most cost-effective housing and settlement ways to improve the conditions of people living in poor conditions. Habitat often includes WASH initiatives in our disaster reduction and response programs.

Our WASH interventions include both a ‘software’ and ‘hardware’ component. For example, ‘software’ might be an education program designed to improve hygiene habits, whereas ‘hardware’ would be building an actual facility or making infrastructure improvements like piping. By combining both components, programs become more effective and sustainable.  

We place great emphasis on analyzing the social, technological and economic impact of each project, including risk mapping, to ensure our work is sustainable and effective. We also focus our support on vulnerable groups including orphans, widows, the handicapped, in addition to leprosy communities and those suffering from HIV.

In urban slums and rural communities, we also support – and create when necessary – community councils to make WASH-focused needs assessments, plans and services. As always, we collaborate with multiple stakeholders, including those in the public and private sectors, to achieve better outcomes.

But our involvement goes beyond changing infrastructure. For example, Habitat also engages young people to create social enterprise opportunities and we conduct education and behavior change campaigns to promote hygiene and other positive social habits.

We also work with microfinance institutions, local service providers and entrepreneurs to expand the availability of affordable financial and technical WASH products and services to families living in poor conditions.

A toilet is not just a toilet

When residents from the Dida-Yaokro and Chickwawa communities constructed toilets, their health improved, the school attendance increased and the environment got cleaner. 

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Leaving no one behind

Water crisis is felt most acutely by women who are responsible for water collection. Damme lives in Ethiopia and she used to travel more than six hours to fetch water from a nearby region. The water she collected was not even clean.

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Water for Peace Island

With funding from The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Habitat for Humanity will increase access to clean water, sanitation and waste management for 13,000 slum-dwellers in Monrovia, Liberia.

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Keeping girls in schools

We call for gender parity and commit to put young schoolgirls and women at the heart of our water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives. Without proper sanitation facilities, they tend to miss school or dropout from classes.

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The Water of Life

Kauma Village is an informal settlement of over 33,000 people who live on the outskirts of Lillongwe, Malawi’s capital. In Kauma, many people lack basic water and sanitation facilities, as it falls outside the government’s services.

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