Our Work

Water, Sanitation And Hygiene

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are crucial building blocks for development. WASH interventions improve health outcomes, advance education, reduce poverty and malnutrition, increase child and maternal survival, drive economic growth, contribute to gender equality and dignity and improve overall quality of life. Despite the importance of WASH in virtually all development outcomes, an estimated 748 million people still lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation.


The InterAction WASH Working Group supports U.S. NGOs in advocating for the comprehensive integration of WASH into U.S. and multilateral development programs.

The Water for the World Act

In 2005, The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (Public Law 109-121) was signed into law, making WASH a U.S. foreign policy priority. In the years since, USAID and the U.S. Department of State have improved millions of lives by helping to provide WASH services, and have worked with other governments to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Following six years of advocacy around the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (Public Law 113-289), it was passed into law in 2014 and refines and improves the Water for the Poor Act. The Water for the World Act makes better use of existing WASH funds, strengthens accountability for WASH programs already underway, and ensures the greatest impact on communities worldwide, without spending new money or creating new bureaucracy. This law:

  • Codified the existing capacity in the U.S. government to ensure WASH remained a policy priority, and that expertise is available at USAID and State Department headquarters, and in country-level USAID missions, to guide implementation of effective and sustainable WASH programs;

  • Sharpened the criteria for choosing high-priority countries to ensure that limited funding is directed to the countries and communities most in need;

  • Increased integration of WASH programs within other development programs, including child survival, global health, food security, nutrition, and gender equality, in an effort to increase the efficiency and impact of those interventions; 

  • Advanced best practices of effective aid, such as improved monitoring and evaluation and a focus on leveraging non-Federal partnerships and funds;

  • Improved the strategic approach to international safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and to water resource management, by providing guidance that builds on USAID’s own Water and Development Strategy (May 2013), such as by requiring transparency in country priorities and regular reviews of progress using recognized metrics.

InterAction members are also active implementers of WASH programs around the world. The map below (part of InterAction's NGO Aid Map initiative) provides an interactive snapshot of our members' work in this sector. 


If you are involved in international water, sanitation and hygiene work, you can sign up for InterAction's WASH Working Group by registering for an account and requesting membership. For more information on InterAction's WASH work, please contact Erin Rein.


USAID: Water and Sanitation

Sanitation and Water for All: A global partnership to achieve universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation.