Skip to main content

7 facts you didn't know about water

We often take water for granted. A shower and a glass of water are usually just a turn of a tap away. But, that is not true in many developing countries. Plan International’s work in water, sanitation and hygiene aims to create sustainable solutions for communities with limited access to clean water.

Girl using a water pump

Here are 7 facts we bet you didn’t know about water:

1. 663 million people don’t have access to safe drinkable water - that’s 1 in every 9 people. Source

2. A 1-minute shower with a conventional showerhead uses more water (at least 20 litres) than most people in sub-Saharan Africa use in an entire day for basic drinking and hygiene purposes (average: 7.5 - 20 litres). Source 1 | 2

3. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20 litres of water is sufficient for very basic drinking, cooking, and hand washing needs in a developing country, but other common tasks that require larger volumes of  water such as bathing or laundry are difficult to achieve with only 20 litres. Source

4. In Africa and Asia, women and girls walk an average of 6km a day carrying water that weighs around 20kg. Imagine that. It’s equivalent to carrying a 40” flat screen television for more than 3.5 miles. Source

Girl from Uganda carries water

5. Each day people - mostly women and girls - spend 125 million hours collecting water. With safe access to clean water, those hours could instead be spent in a classroom, on income generation, or having fun. Source

6. When schools have water and sanitation facilities, attendance rates increase, especially for girls. Unfortunately, globally one third of all schools lack access to sanitation and drinkable water. Source

Girl drinking water

7. 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990. Source

In 2015, Plan International supported the construction or rehabilitation of 2,600 water systems.

Sign up for our newsletter
to find out more about our work in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.