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Water Facts

Water and sanitation flow through every aspect of sustainable development. Access to these essential services are human rights. A well managed water cycle is critical to human society and the integrity of the natural environment. These pages outline some of the key water related issues.

On 7 May 2020, Precious, 9, washes her hands at a UNICEF-provided handwashing station in the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.  In the nearly two months since COVID-19 was first reported in Kenya in 12 March 2020, hand washing has become one of the most important steps towards stopping the spread of the virus.

Handwashing and Hand Hygiene

A resident, surrounded by his children, looks at one of the main pipes that supplies water to the city of Goma, North Kivu, DRC. which was damaged by the volcanic eruption. The sudden eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on the evening of 22 May 2021, generated two lava flows towards the city of Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thousands of people fled the town of Goma city and many moved for the village of Sake. One of the major problems following this event is access to drinking water f

Quality and Wastewater

A landscape that shows a tree and lake Victoria. Kampala

Transboundary Waters

A woman member of the Tahanit Barize Association waters her plot in Barize. The gardening activities benefit from the financial support of ECHO through UNICEF. UNICEF and partners are strengthening resilience in the north of Mali, regions affected by ongoing insecurity and increasing water scarcity, through solar-powered water supplies. Barize, Timbuktu region, March 2019

Water, Food and Energy

UN staff handing out water

Water and Peace


Access to water and sanitation is a human right. A well managed water cycle underpins progress across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in relation to hunger, gender equity, health, education, livelihoods, sustainability and ecosystems.

Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society and the environment. Without proper water governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water between sectors and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors. 

The physical world of water is closely bound up with the socio-political world, with water often a key factor in managing risks such as famine, epidemics, inequalities and political instability.