United Methodist Committee on Relief

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Water, sanitation, and hygiene are essential for good health and well-being. Water is used not only for drinking but also for bathing, cooking, cleaning, waste disposal, and agriculture. Yet, 668 million people around the world do not have reliable access to clean drinking water and even more people lack access to water for agriculture and other household tasks to meet their everyday needs. What's more, 2.4 billion people around the world lack adequate sanitation facilities. This lack of access to basic services results in more than 1,000 children dying daily from diseases, many of which are entirely preventable when WASH is addressed and sustained at the community level.

UMCOR’s WASH program is helping vulnerable communities become more resilient by supporting local partners that work with communities to develop safe water sources, improve their knowledge and practice of healthy behaviors, and find ways to improve sanitation. Every US$1 spent on water, sanitation, and hygiene generates US$4.30 in increased productivity and decreased health care costs.

Clean Water

UMCOR helps communities rehabilitate existing water infrastructure or develop new sources of clean water, such as wells or spring protection. When safe sources are not available, UMCOR partners may help families access water filters and adopt new behaviors for treating their water, such as solar disinfection or boiling. Community members receive support and training so they can maintain their own water supply, which will continue to serve them well into the future.


Approximately 622,000 children under age five die each year from diarrheal diseases that result from poor water, sanitation, and hygiene. Almost 1 billion people defecate in the open, putting children in these communities at risk of not reaching their full growth potential. UMCOR helps communities build improved and appropriate toilets that will be safe and hygienic for years to come. 

Healthy Hygiene Practices

Simple actions can make a huge difference to people’s health. Only 19 percent of the world’s population wash their hands with soap after contact with feces. UMCOR works to promote essential self and community hygiene practices, including hand washing and safe water storage, in order to keep disease at a distance and protect families so they can live healthier lives.

Empowerment, Integration, and Sustainability

Helping communities self-organize and define their priorities is just as important as digging a well in a place where water is scarce. UMCOR helps communities take ownership of their water and sanitation systems and build lasting strategies and solutions to ensure they will benefit in the future. UMCOR recognizes that the basic requirements of living a healthy and higher quality of life are linked to other components such as nutrition and agriculture. Our integrated approach helps communities access the resources they need to thrive. UMCOR seeks to empower individuals and their communities through every aspect of the work it does — giving hope and help where it’s needed most.

Support this work with your gift to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Advance #3020600.

Sanitation & Hygiene News

Water and Laughter in Iraq
UMCOR and partner GlobalMedic respond to needs in northern Iraq where access to clean drinking water and basic hygiene supplies is severely ...
In Zimbabwe, UMCOR Equips Community to Ensure Safe Water
In Zimbabwe, UMCOR revitalizes a water-point committee and equips them to rehabilitate and maintain its clean water source at Kafura Seconda ...
In Sudan: Clean Water, Less Illness
UMCOR helps improve community water access and management in East Darfur state.
Clean, Safe Water Improves Life in East Darfur
A rehabilitated water yard brings more than just clean water to communities in East Darfur.
Addressing Drought in Zimbabwe
Communities in Zimbabwe thrive in the midst of drought through an UMCOR integrated approach that includes food security and nutrition, livel ...
In West Africa, Better Hygiene Equals Better Learning
In Cote d’Ivoire, children are better able to learn after latrines and hand-washing stations were installed in their school, thanks to UMCOR ...
Malawi: Drought Need Not Equal Famine
Countering hunger by way of dry rations in times of crop failure and drought in Malawi.
“Wait Until It Breaks?” Not in Uganda
Clean water flows in Uganda.
Clean Water for Suffering Texas Community
UMCOR helps the North Texas Conference bring clean drinking water to a community in need outside Dallas.
Water is a Human Right
How does UMCOR WASH work?
Global Development


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