Technical Brief

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Essential Components for Food Security

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions play critical roles in achieving the major goals of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, which targets the root causes of hunger, poverty, and undernutrition, especially for women and children.

WASH interventions address two pillars of food security:


Integrating Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene into Nutrition Programming

Diarrhea, pneumonia and birth complications are the top three killers of children under age five worldwide. Each year diarrhea alone causes the death of 760,000 children under five (11 percent of all child mortality). Diarrhea is also a leading cause of undernutrition in this age group and one-third to one-half of all child mortality cases are linked to undernutrition. UNICEF estimates that more than 90 percent of deaths from diarrheal illnesses in young children can be attributed to unsafe or inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices.


Safeguarding the World's Water FY 2009

The following report summarizes the fiscal year (FY) 2009 investments and programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in water and sanitation supply projects pursuant to the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (Public Law [PL] 109–121). The funding figures it presents are based upon estimates of budget allocations and budget commitments reported by USAID operating units around the world through May 2010.

Real Impact

Real Impact: Lower Mekong - Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Enterprise Development

In Cambodia, where 77 percent of the rural population lacks access to improved sanitation, people often think they cannot afford toilets. Providing access to affordable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) products and services is critical in this country where, according to UNICEF and WHO, 8.6 million people practice open defecation, and research has shown that less than 10 percent of rural households properly wash their hands. However, equally as significant is maintaining these improvements for the long term.

Real Impact

Real Impact: Ethiopia - Hygiene Improvement Project

When the Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP) began in 2004, nearly 80 percent of the total population of the Amhara Region in Ethiopia (an estimated 15.2 million people) lived in rural areas where access to sanitation was extremely low and hygiene behaviors were not widely practiced. The majority of the population, 64 percent, practiced open defecation, and just 17 percent of the population had access to only “unimproved” sanitation facilities such as pit latrines.

Real Impact

Real Impact: Indonesia - Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project

Urban areas across Indonesia have reached a critical juncture. Despite high levels of economic growth, access to basic services such as water supply and sanitation services are exceptionally low, especially for the urban poor. Only 37 percent of urbanites have access to piped water supply and only 69 percent have access to the most basic sanitation. Most notably, coverage in several areas is falling even further behind as urban population growth outstrips the ability of most local governments to expand service coverage.

Real Impact

Real Impact: West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program

Access rates for adequate sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa remain among the lowest in the world. In West Africa, three countries in particular – Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger – have typically ranked among the lowest performing African countries in this category, with only 20 percent, or less, of the population in each country having access to improved sanitation just five years ago. The practice of open defecation was prevalent in rural areas.