Water insecurity - including lack of access to drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene products and services - disproportionately impacts those who are poor and who face social, political, or legal discrimination. However, investments in equitable water security, water resource allocation, and access to basic services for marginalized individuals have the potential to mitigate the impact of many other inequalities, such as in access to education, health care, sufficient nutritious food, and employment. 

Women and girls are particularly affected because, in addition to facing stigma and discrimination based on gender, they often are also members of other marginalized groups.

USAID supports accessible latrines at schools, like this one at Bauleni Special Needs School in Zambia, to help keep girls in school.
Photo credit: Water and Development Alliance/Zambia.


USAID’s Approach

To achieve equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, and equitable water resources management across underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized groups and those in vulnerable situations, USAID:

  • Ensures that program and activity design reflects and responds to specific contexts, experiences, traditional knowledge, and barriers to equity and inclusive outcomes, identified through consultation with people from marginalized communities. 
  • Uses social and inclusive development analytical tools, including mandatory gender analyses, and incorporates findings across activity design, implementation, and monitoring. 
  • Disaggregates program data to better understand progress, opportunities, and lessons learned in reaching those who are hardest to reach. 
  • Partners with underserved and marginalized people and communities and with civil society organizations led by and for them and people in vulnerable situations, which includes:
    • Seeking free, prior, and informed consent; 
    • Supporting organizational and professional development to accomplish locally defined goals;
    • Facilitating safe, accessible, and meaningful participation of underserved and marginalized people and communities in activity and policy design, implementation, monitoring, and research; 
    • Honoring local and traditional knowledge and systems; 
    • Using inclusive and accessible communications tools and social and behavior change approaches. 

Read more under “Principle 2” in the U.S. Global Water Strategy.


Related Policies and Strategies


Related Resources