Around the globe, nearly 800 million people lack access to water and over 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation. The scope and impact of this crisis are staggering. The United Nations has reported that more people die from water- and sanitation-related diseases than from all forms of violence, including war. According to the United Nations Development Program, every US$1 spent on water and sanitation generates a return of US$9 in saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs in Africa.

Beyond loss of life, water poverty and inadequate sanitation cripple all development efforts. A lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities keeps children, especially girls, from attending school. Women spend an average of 3-5 hours each day fetching water, missing out on opportunities to perform other tasks or engage in economically productive activity. Parents miss work due to water-related illness or caring for sick family members. Existing medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, are exacerbated because of unsafe water and inadequate sanitation. Climate change, population growth, industrialization and urbanization all threaten to make the global WASH crisis much worse.

Fortunately, there is room for hope. Waterborne illness is preventable and lasting water supply and sanitation solutions exist. Through concerted efforts by governments, corporations, foundations and nongovernmental organizations, roughly 200 million people have gained access to clean water during the past decade. However, even with these efforts, many countries are unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for water and even fewer will reach the MDG for sanitation. Unprecedented collaboration between all sectors of society is needed in order to achieve sustainable solutions to this challenge.

Global Water Challenge brings together leading organizations in the water and sanitation sector to address this fundamental issue through partnerships and innovative approaches to water and sanitation. Drawing upon the experience, expertise and assets of its members, GWC is able to create partnerships that achieve far greater results than any one organization could by itself.

See the full list of Global Water Challenge members.