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Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)

Safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects help improve access to clean water and toilets and promote hygiene practices like handwashing and menstrual hygiene education for girls.

Every year, millions of children suffer from preventable WASH-related illnesses. Without access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation, made worse by poor hygiene practices, diseases like diarrhea can result in compromised health or death.

Did you know

Diarrhea remains a leading killer of young children, accounting for approximately 8 per cent of all deaths among children under age 5 worldwide.

Clean water and simple interventions could prevent the deaths of about 480,000 children a year.

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Access to clean water helps unleash the potential of children by improving their health and their ability to go to school and stay there. Safe sanitation at home and in public institutions like schools and health facilities ensures privacy, dignity and safety, especially for girls and women.

Hygienic practices — like hand washing with soap before eating, before preparing food, and after defecation — can significantly reduce the incidence of diarrhea, in some cases by almost 50 per cent.

Safe drinking water and sanitation is recognized as a basic human right, yet billions live without it.

Gender Considerations in WASH

Without access to clean drinking water and toilets, life is challenging and even dangerous — especially for women and girls.

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How do we provide water,
sanitation and hygiene?

Plan International Canada works with communities to improve access to safe drinking water and toilets and promote good hygiene behaviours such as hand washing and proper handling and disposal of waste and menstrual hygiene management. We support WASH activities in communities, health facilities and schools. Training of local people in basic operation and maintenance skills is also important for ensuring developed water sources and sanitation facilities provide long-lasting service.

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Suitable technical options for safe water provision depend greatly on the context. These can include wells with handpumps, protected springs, rainwater harvesting, and connecting to existing piped networks, among others.

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Households are supported to build latrines to create clean and healthy community conditions. The presence of toilet blocks at schools and health facilities contributes to more comfortable and safer environment for students and teachers, patients and health workers.

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Hygiene education

The health benefits of water and sanitation facilities are amplified when combined with hygiene education activities. These include safe water collection and storage methods, handwashing with soap at critical times, and menstrual hygiene.A key aspect of menstrual hygiene education is to work with communities, including boys and men to address stigma attached to menstruation.

Where do we provide WASH programming?


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The presence of a reliable water supply and separate toilet blocks help to increase girls’ attendance. School health clubs are an effective means for promoting good hygiene practices like hand washing and safe menstrual hygiene management.

Health Facilities

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Adequate WASH is essential for providing basic health services. It prevents infections and the spread of disease, and protects patients and staff. Simple hygiene practices before, during and after labour can reduce the risk of infections to infants and mothers. Conversely, poor WASH conditions can discourage patients including pregnant women from seeking care.


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Improving access to WASH services closer to home means girls and women can spend less time and effort fetching water or looking for a place to go to the toilet. This frees up time for attending school pursuing livelihoods, and recreational events.

Ways you can support our Wash Work

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Gifts of hope

Help families access clean water so that all children, especially girls can be safe and stay in school.

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Child sponsorship

When you sponsor a child, you help them access clean water, education, improved health care and more.

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