Water

It's all too easy to forget what a miracle water is. With a water supply on tap, food can grow, and people can thrive.


In 2013/14, we provided 3.6 million people with improved access to clean water.

Following the earthquake in Haiti, we delivered more than 300m litres of clean water to people every month.

The issue

Every day, 1400 children die from diarrhoea caused by dirty water. This is just a proportion of the 4 million deaths from water-related diseases and poor sanitation each year.

Worldwide, almost 1 billion people lack access to safe water and sanitation.

In emergencies, many more lives are put at risk by inadequate water supplies and poor sanitation. It's estimated that each person needs 15 litres of water per day for drinking, cooking, and washing in an emergency. This makes providing clean water a massive task requiring the sort of specialist skills and equipment Oxfam has.

What we're doing

Emergency response

Fast action can stop an emergency turning into a crisis. Our water engineers are renowned for their speed and efficiency, providing large-scale water supplies and disease-preventing sanitation facilities - even in the most difficult circumstances such as the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods.

In each situation, we look for the most effective and efficient way to provide water - setting up delivery systems that pipe or truck water in from the nearest water source for distribution via water tanks, pipes and tapstands.

We always work with local people, taking into account local needs and practices. We ensure that facilities are designed to enable people - particularly women and children - to maintain their dignity and stay safe. We also provide health and hygiene advice to ensure water and sanitation facilities are used properly to help prevent the spread of disease.

As part of long-term development

Water, sanitation and hygiene underpin many of our poverty-fighting development projects. We work with local communities to provide long-term, cost-effective solutions that can reduce levels of poverty and disease.

Providing safe water can improve general health and reduce the pressure on often limited health care resources. 

Introducing simple irrigation schemes can kick-start farming, improve local diets and give people the chance to make a living. 

Providing clean water, latrines and hygiene advice at school can even increase attendance, reducing days lost through illness and raising educational performance. This can be particularly significant for girls. Schools play an important role helping to change attitudes towards hygiene within their wider community.

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