More than 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water and 2.3 billion live without access to sanitary facilities. The majority of these people lives in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.


The global volume of accessible fresh water would be sufficient to meet global demand. Despite this, water shortages can occur due to geographical location and local intensity of demand. Distribution is therefore the greatest challenge. And it is massive. Aggravated by climate change and the sharp increase in the demand for water, experts estimate that global demand will exceed the global supply of water by 40% within the next 15 years. Two thirds of the world's population suffer severe water shortages for at least one month a year already today. For around 500 million people this is even the case throughout the whole year.

Over 780 million people live without safe access to clean drinking water

Over 2 billion people live without safe access to basic sanitation

More than 400 million school days are lost each year due to waterborne diseases or water-related problems

Every 7th person carries out his necessities outdoors (public defecation)

Of the 940 million inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa: 400 million people lack safe access to clean water and 655 million people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities

Types of Water Scarcity

There are different types of water scarcity that occur individually or collectively, seasonally or permanently. Physical water scarcity occurs when the demand for water exceeds the naturally available water resources. Due to climate change and the severe overuse of groundwater, the volume of accessible water resources is decreasing in many regions of the world. Economic water scarcity means that although sufficient natural resources are available to meet demand, these resources cannot be made use of due to poor management or infrastructure.

Economic water scarcity means that although sufficient natural water resources are available to meet demand, these resources cannot be made use of due to poor management or infrastructure.

Physical Economic Water Scarcity Vectoren

Water Scarcity in Sub-Saharan Africa

The far-reaching effects of economic water scarcity are being felt in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular. Water scarcity forces many people to travel long distances or wait for long periods to gain access to drinking water. In addition, there are risks associated with water quality or quantity. Under certain circumstances, the water comes from an unsafe source, is polluted, only available in small quantities or expensive. Millions of school and working days are lost due to illness, taking care of family members or the time required to procure water.

In Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, many people spend around 40% of their budget on water.


The definitions of what it means to have access to clean water and basic sanitation are constantly being adapted. They serve to categorise and guide the measures to be taken. They should be read with care, because defining what is and is not a minimum standard is difficult and always entails certain risks. A basic distinction is made between elementary access (minimum standard) and improved access (target standard).



The minimum standard includes drinking water from a safe source and a total time of no more than 30 minutes required to collect it. A safe source can be a pipe system, a borehole or pipe well, a dug well, a protected natural water source or bottled water.

Household connection in John Laing, Lusaka / Lior Etter, WfW


The drinking water comes from a safe source, is free from any contaminants causing health risks, is available at all times and access is on the property itself.

Maputo4 School


The minimum standard for sanitation includes safe facilities that do not need to be shared with other households. A safe installation may be a flush toilet with a sewage system, a septic tank system, a latrine with or without ventilation and with or without a flap, or a compostable toilet.

Wastewater Treatment Plant


The minimum standard is expanded: excrements must be safely treated and processed, either on site or via a waste water or transport system in a central plant.

Bairro Aeroporto B, Maputo / Lior Etter, WfW


The minimum and target standard includes the availability of a hand washing facility with soap and water on your own property. A hand washing facility can be fixed or mobile and can be a faucet with a sink or bucket, a tippy tap and jugs or basins used exclusively for hand washing. Soap includes soap cubes, liquid soap, hand washing powder or soapy water.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were formulated in 2000. They contained various goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty, universal access to primary education and the reduction of child mortality. In this context, the goal was formulated of reducing the proportion of people without safe access to drinking water to 12%. This target was even slightly exceeded by 2015. However, since hundreds of millions of people still live without safe access to drinking water and over 2 billion without basic sanitation, new goals were defined in the course of formulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Drinking water and sanitation were added to the list as separate items. The SDGs stipulate that by 2030 safe and affordable access to drinking water for all should be provided worldwide. In the same way, appropriate and gender-friendly access to basic sanitation should be established worldwide and public defecation put to an end. The focus should be set on the needs of girls and women in particular.

Progressive improvements in the quality of water supply based on the criteria of accessibility, acceptability, availability, quality and affordability.

Use official development assistance (ODA) to activate local resources and strengthen SDGs.

Strengthening local institutions and sustainability of water supply.

Central positioning of WASH in education and health improvements.

Recognition of the impact of climate change on SDGs.

Reduction and elimination of inequalities in access to water and basic sanitation for certain groups.

Integrating hygiene as a priority, with a focus on hand washing and menstrual hygiene.

Focus on WASH outside the home in schools and hospitals.


WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and describes a holistic approach to improving water supply and hygiene.

The water and wastewater cycles of a region are taken into account and supplemented with specific hygiene measures. After all, public health depends simultaneously on clean drinking water, safe sanitary facilities and personal hygiene.

Water and Nutrition Circle. WASSER FÜR WASSER (WfW)




Our use of water will be of crucial importance for future generations.