More than 700 million people lack access to improved sources of drinking water, and more than one-third of the global population – around 2.5 billion people – do not use an improved sanitation facility. These deprivations cause illnesses that can be fatal, particularly for children. Nearly one out of every five deaths among children under age 5 is due to diarrhea – more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

Module 3: Water and Me

“Individuals should never underestimate their own influence and the role they can play in changing things for the better.” – Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General 


Clean water is vital to every aspect of human life – we cannot survive without it. But dirty water is dangerous and can be deadly, especially for infants and young children. UN Water reported that, as of 2013, 2.5 billion people, including almost 1 billion children, did not have even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation, unsafe water, and lack of good hygiene – that equals 1.5 million deaths each year that could be prevented with access to sanitation, good hygiene, and safe water. 

Up to 80% of untreated sewage comes from human settlements. Another primary source of water pollution is related to waste from industrial and agricultural activities. Two million tons of sewage and other waste drain into the Earth’s waters on a daily basis, without any treatment.

Thematic concepts

Safe Water

Safe water is water that will not harm you if you come in contact with it. Water must have low concentrations of contaminants to avoid sickening the people who use it. 


Dehydration is the condition that results from excessive loss of body water. In severe acute malnutrition, dehydration is caused by untreated diarrheal disease that leads to the loss water and electrolytes. 


Water, sanitation, and hygiene are frequently referred to together as “WASH.” Because poor water, sanitation, and hygiene have serious consequences for children’s lives around the world, many worldwide organizations have WASH programs. 


Making water safe to drink
Activity Time: 50 minutes Activity Thematic Areas: Health, Science
Germ detection and hand washing
Activity Time: 50 minutes Activity Thematic Areas: Science, Health, Life Skills
Water in our bodies and dehydration
Activity Time: 50 minutes Activity Thematic Areas: Science, Health