Water and Sanitation

Clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene are critical for preventing and controlling infectious diseases. USAID supports local governments and stakeholders to strengthen access to sustainable water and sanitation within households and communities as well as at health care facilities and schools.

Clean water, safe sanitation, and good hygiene are critical for preventing and controlling infectious diseases. Currently, 2.1 billion people around the world live without access to safe drinking water, and approximately 4.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Families and communities lacking a safe water supply and basic sanitation are often confronted by illness, lost income, and malnourishment. Further, the global climate crisis directly threatens the water security of countries, and heightens existing challenges in managing water resources. USAID works to improve access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation services, and promote innovative approaches to enabling hygiene behavior change to prevent water-borne disease. 

Basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services within healthcare facilities are the cornerstone of quality, equitable, and respectful care. In many countries, poor WASH conditions in health facilities expose pregnant women and newborns to illness and infection, discourage families from seeking lifesaving care, and force health workers to deliver services in unsafe and unpleasant working environments. USAID’s water and sanitation programs support locally led initiatives that enable health care facilities to access clean and reliable water to ensure safe and sanitary conditions for women, children, and families seeking care.

Our Approach and Results

USAID’s investments in improving WASH saves lives by: 

  • Increasing  access to clean and reliable water in health care facilities to ensure safe and sanitary conditions for women, children, and families seeking care.
  • Supporting partner countries plan, finance, and deliver safe water and sanitation services for women, children, and families, while sustainably managing water resources. 
  • Promoting healthy behaviors to prevent infection and illness including handwashing with soap at critical times. 
  • Strengthening WASH governance through improved policy, planning, monitoring, and institutional capacity building.

Over the last ten years, USAID has supported 21 million people to gain access to basic drinking water. 

Where We Work 

USAID has 22 high-priority WASH countries. These countries are the primary focus of the U.S. government’s investments to build a more water-secure world amid ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, and conflict. There is significant overlap between these countries and USAID’s  maternal and child survival partner countries.

Projects and Partnerships 

Success Stories

Six Ways USAID is Committing to Menstrual Health and Hygiene


Approximately 500 million people worldwide face barriers to managing their menstruation in a safe, healthy, and dignified manner due to poor access to menstrual health and hygiene resources, and stigma around menstruation, among other factors. The challenges are most acute in low- and middle-income countries. Our commitment — from the classroom to the factory floor — is to ensure all menstruators can safely engage in life with dignity and confidence.

Clean Hands (and More!) in the Time of COVID-19


Proper handwashing with soap and water represents the first layer of defense against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. But many places around the world cannot practice this behavior due to a lack of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) resources. Health care workers, families, and students cannot practice safe handwashing due to shortages of running water or soap in homes, health care facilities, and schools.

Dignified Menstruation in the Workplace


Around the world, many people who menstruate every month cannot afford to buy tampons and pads. This “period poverty” can cause poor concentration at work and even missed work, leading to less productivity.

Tapping Into Water


USAID is committed to increasing access to sustainable safe drinking water and sanitation services in Guatemala.

News and Resources

Preventing Child and Maternal Deaths, A Framework for Action in a Changing World, 2022 – 2030


A Decade of Progress and Action for the Future will examine the tenacity and innovation that helped us make gains, the lessons learned through monitoring, country-led adaptation and leadership, analysis, and reflection, as well as the approaches we must take to reinvigorate the momentum and global commitment to improving maternal and child survival. Increasing coverage, strengthening the quality of care, and enhancing equity will be tantamount to our global progress.

A Decade of Progress and Action for the Future: Preventing Child and Maternal Deaths, 2023-2030 Factsheet


Explore the executive summary for this landmark report outlining USAID's framework for action to prevent child and maternal deaths around the world. 

Improving Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Health Facilities for Better Safety and Quality of Care



USAID recognizes that access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services within health care facilities are the cornerstone of quality, equitable, and respectful services.

USAID's Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene Knowledge Portal



USAID envisions a water secure world--where people have sustainable supplies of water to meet human, economic, and ec