I had been meaning to write about this subject for a while but just never got around to it. I came across this issue a number years ago at World Water Week, it relates to Sustainable Development Goal 6 Clean Water & Sanitation – and it’s something that we are lucky enough not to have to think about here in Ireland but it’s a really important issue.
In 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that “1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are still without sanitation facilities” while 663 million people still lack access to safe and clean drinking water. In 2017, this estimate changed to 2.3 billion people without sanitation facilities and 844 million people without access to safe and clean drinking water. A lack of WASH facilities can prevent students from attending school, impose an unusual burden on women and reduce work productivity. 
In many low income countries across the world water inequality goes unnoticed. Women have no choice but to stay are home and hold the primary responsibility for management of household water supply, sanitation and health. They spend time collecting water which can be time consuming as most wells are miles away from their villages.
Often, fulfilling these roles precludes any other occupation or participation in education, and their marginalization is compounded by the indignity and insecurity of having nowhere private to go to the toilet . In unstable countries and regions women and girls are more vulnerable to abuse and attack while walking to and using a toilet or open defecation site and women have specific hygiene needs during menstruation, pregnancy and child rearing. The presence or absence of a safe and sufficient water supply and improved sanitation facilities has a disproportionate effect on the lives of women and girls for these reasons.
WASH is an acronym that stands for “water, sanitation and hygiene” and there are many programmes set up in developing countries such as the Bill & Melinda Gates WASH project to overcome these issues, is well worth reading about.
By Ruth Clinton
Water Innovation Officer