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

Blessing of Water in Pakistan
Family hand pumps provide clean water for families making a living in Falaisabad District.
World Toilet Day: “Now We Are Safer”
Bringing attention to the global sanitation challenge in observance of World Toilet Day, Nov. 19.
Weaving Integrated Development
A look at an UMCOR integrated development project in Guatemala.
Collaboration for clean water
In Papua New Guinea, villagers respond to climate change challenges with innovation and collaboration.
Women in BĂ©nin Share Lifesaving Practice
They have learned the importance of handwashing to prevent illness.
A Treated River in Bolivia Shows Visible Improvement
UMCOR and Engineers in Action tackle poisonous pollution in a Bolivian mining area, and now some 90,000 people are seeing their health prosp ...
UMCOR Celebrates with Youths at Y15
UMCOR shared with more than 4,000 young people its work to alleviate suffering around the world.
The Fun UMCOR Had at Youth 2015
UMCOR went to Youth 2015, a United Methodist event for middle and high schoolers. See what we did!
Communities in South Sudan Work Together for Healthier Sanitation
Communities identify and remedy sanitation issues, a pathway to improved health and well-being.
United Methodists Help Bring Healing Water to Kentucky
Water kiosk at Red Bird Mission will offer clean water to 6,000 residents in remote Appalachia.
Global Development


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