Access to Water

Water is an essential part of life. But for many reasons, including bad economics and poor infrastructure, millions of people in the world lack access to clean drinking water. They put themselves at risk drinking unsanitary, bacteria-laden water. That's because more than 10 percent of the world still doesn't have access to an improved source of drinking water. In Sub-Sahara Africa the figure is over 40 percent.

A lack of access to water means the poor use the same dirty water for drinking, cleaning, cooking and personal hygiene. It means millions of people die every year from diseases contracted from non-potable water, and it means sacrifice and super human effort.

Gaining access to water is so important to survival everything else takes a backseat, including health, schoolwork and opportunity. But people will risk disease when no other options exist. The future means nothing when the present is parched.

The photos below show the different places and methods the poor employ to access water.  All of the pictures are available to license.

Access to water in the developing world often means woman and children have to carry 40 pounds of water in a jerry can on their backs.

Access to Water — Kenya

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A young woman wearing a red shirt and floral skirt hunches over while hauling 40 pounds of water in a jerry can on her back.

Gaining access to water sometimes means filling up buckets and containers from a muddy hole.

Gathering Hole Water — Tanzania

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A small boy uses a container and bucket to gather drinking water from a dirty water hole rimmed by trees and trash.

Gaining access to water sometimes means filling a jerry can from a river multiple times a day.

Gathering River Water — Kenya

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A teenage boy squats down at the edge of a river to fill his jerry can with sick water. The water has caused him many trips to the doctor and many days away from school because of typhoid.

Gaining access to water sometimes means filling jerry cans from a water source where people wash their clothes, take baths or water their animals.

Gathering Trough Water — Ethiopa

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A teenage boy fetches water from his family's water source — an irrigation trough. The water source is shared with animals and other families.

Gaining access to water sometimes means standing hip deep in a river and filling up a bucket from a waterfall.

Gathering River Water — Haiti

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A woman stands hip deep in a river as she collects drinking water as part of her daily chore routine. She holds a yellow bucket under a stream of water pouring into the river.

Gaining access to water sometimes means scooping water from a mud puddle into a jerry cans with small cups, like these two squatting children.

Gathering Puddle Water — Tanzania

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Two children squat down and scoop water into jerry cans with small cups. The shallow puddle is surrounded by dusty ground and may eventually dry up.

A young girl gains access to water from the middle of a dirty pond.

Gathering Pond Water — Rwanda

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A teenage girl standing knee deep in a murky pond fills a jerry can by pushing the opening of the container beneath the surface of the water.

Gaining access to water sometimes means filling a bucket with dirty brown water from a small stream.

Gathering Stream Water — Kenya

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A young woman wearing a red shirt and floral skirt collects water for drinking, cooking and use in her household chores.

A young Haitian boy bends over to take a drink from a pipe that is coming out of a blue water cistern. The water tower is sitting on large bricks. The boy has his hands cupped under the pipe to gather the safe drinking water. He is drinking the water from his hands.

Safe Drinking Water — Haiti

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A young boy bends over and slurps clean drinking water from his cupped hands. The water flows from the spigot of a large blue cistern sitting on a stack of cinder blocks.

Two Haitian children drink clean water coming from a pipe. They cup their hands under the running water to capture it, then drink from their hands.

Access to Clean Water — Haiti

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Two children drink clean water coming out of spigots on a pipeline. They cup their hands under the running water to capture it and drink from their hands.

A child peeks his head over a blue bucket as he washes his hands in clean water pouring from a spigot.

Access to Clean Water — El Salvador

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A young boy rinses his hands by lifting them over the edge of a blue container. The container has been placed beneath the spigot so the water can be reused.

A child washes her hands in clean water pouring from a bucket into a plastic tub.

Access to Clean Water — Burkina Faso

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A child practices proper personal hygiene by rinsing and washing her hands before meal time.

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