water tap

In the fifth episode of the UN climate action podcast No Denying It, United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, known for her groundbreaking scientific work studying chimpanzees, interviews Xiaoyuan "Charlene" Ren.

Ms. Ren is the founder of MyH20, a network that collects drinking water data to help find solutions to improve water quality across China. Globally, two billion people lack access to safe drinking water, a figure that will only go up as infrastructure struggles to keep pace with new climate change-related weather patterns.


A girl carries a container of water on her shoulder.

The right to safe drinking water and sanitation is rooted in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations resolutions and the Geneva conventions. It is a right that is as critical to the survival of children as food, medical care, and protection from attack. But from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to Ukraine to Yemen, crises have become increasingly protracted and conflict threatens interconnected urban service systems. To improve children’s access to clean drinking water, and to save lives in conflicts and crises, UNICEF calls for three major changes.

An illustration of a woman holding up a water drop in front of multiple mirrors.

The United Nations World Water Development Report, published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water, shows that the inability to recognize the value of water is the main cause of water waste and misuse.

Beach full of trash

Water is the lifeblood of all life on Earth. And yet, over 2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water. Over 4 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation. Water shortages now affect more than 3 billion people. Three quarters of all the natural disasters are water-related, including floods, landslides, and other extreme weather events. A recent OHCHR report describes the global water crisis, focusing on the negative impacts of water pollution, water scarcity and water-related disasters on the enjoyment of several human rights.

women in the forest, carrying water on their backs

Around the world some 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water, 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation, and 700 million people could be displaced due to scarcity of water by 2030. A number of factors are contributing to the world’s water crisis, not least rising temperatures, shifting rainfall, and extreme weather driven by a warming planet. To address the challenges, UNDP is working with governments and communities worldwide to achieve equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. 

illustration of a river running through a field

Water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. This year, the observance, organized by UN Water, is about what water means to people, its true value and how we can better protect this vital resource. Join the conversation and tell us your story!

illustration of water and plants

More and more people in water-scarce countries rely on desalinated water for drinking, cooking and washing. Here are five things to know about desalination.


Around 1.8 billion people are at heightened risk of COVID-19 and other diseases because they use or work in health care facilities without basic water services, warn WHO and UNICEF. The situation is worst of all in the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs): 1 in 2 health care facilities does not have basic drinking water, 1 in 4 health care facilities has no hand hygiene facilities at points of care; and 3 in 5 lack basic sanitation services. 

woman pouring out water

Water in East Darfur is not in short supply, but is mostly available from water reserves deep underground, making the precious resource difficult and costly to extract. A multifaceted project focused on improving natural resource management and access to potable water in rural areas is helping to improve health, strengthen livelihoods and foster peace in an area prone to conflict. “Water is the artery of life. Without water we can't carry on our lives. For us, having water has solved many problems,” says Elnor Alsair Elnor, the head of the local natural resource committee in Kadeik.

A girl sits on a wooden bed in a room with a latrine next to it.

The state of the world’s sanitation

Like water, data can shape the world. World Bank Water data aggregates thousands of datasets across organizations and countries to help decision makers develop policies based on solid evidence as well as help researchers better understand needs to formulate solutions.

Blade of grass with drops of water.

Water use efficiency can only be improved by monitoring surface water, groundwater and reservoirs. Effective flood and drought policies can only be implemented with data and models for assessing the frequency and magnitude of extreme events. Each 23 March, we celebrate World Meteorological Day and this year we highlight the link between climate and water and the need to manage them in a more coordinated and sustainable manner.

Children gather around a makeshift hand washing facility (made of a bucket with a faucet) to wash their hands with soap and water.

Water, along with soap, is essential to containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other infectious diseases. Globally, billions of people lack basic hygiene facilities in their homes and even in their schools. On this World Water Day (March 22), let us be on top of handwashing/handhygiene and let’s raise awareness on the dangers of the global water crisis, considering that by 2040, water demand is projected to increase by more than 50%. If you have access to soap and water, follow the steps and join the #SafeHands campaign. For your community and for you.

An ILO project renovates Arasapuram tank and provides paid work for local people.

Three decades of conflict in Sri Lanka allowed most of the district’s 400 irrigation tanks to fall into disrepair. The legacy of conflict combined with climate change brought drought and impending disaster to northern Sri Lankan farmers. An ILO project helped to restore water and put them back on the road to a more prosperous life.