Safe Water: The Fight For Drops of Life

A young Palestinian boy takes his first sips of water as the new Rafah water station opens

It's easy to forget how much we need safe water. This is the essential of life which many are denied access to.

For over a billion people, life's most pressing challenge is gaining easy access to safe, clean drinking water. Poor health due to unclean water and conflict surrounding scarce water sources prevents many from escaping the poverty trap.

No intervention has greater overall impact upon national development and public health than the provision of safe drinking water and the proper disposal of human waste. (World Health Organisation)

The link between unsafe water and poverty

When children and adults have drank contaminated water, illness prevents them from attending school or work. 

In fact, at any given time half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease. Having adults too ill to work means a loss of labour and wages and this inevitably damages the economy of desperately poor countries.

Children drinking dirty water results in them staying home to recover, often suffering chronic conditions which means they are not able to complete school or go into the working world. Approximately 443 million school days are lost in this way each year due to children suffering from water-related illness.

In this way, having only contaminated water to drink damages health, debilitates an economy and ensures the cycle of poverty and dependence continues on.

Water use around the world

It is often startling to think of the difference in how much water people around the world use.

From the drought-stricken to the plentiful, here is a chart showing the average water use per person per day according to the United Nations Development Program.

The many approaches to water

There are a myriad of different ways Muslim Hands addresses the safe water needs of different communities. Some serve individual families, others can serve thousands of people in a single town. Here is an overview of how Muslim Hands works to address water needs around the world:



Where the wells need to serve a community or access water from larger depths our Dig-a-Well programme is used. 

These are bigger installations where 25-30 families can benefit from a single well. They are ideal for families who rely on agriculture and farming. 

In recent years such wells have been built in Sudan, Nepal and Gambia. 

Read more about our Dig-a-Well programme here:Dig-a-Well.

Tube wells


Muslim Hands installs a variety of wells. The simplest of these is the tube well. A single tube well will serve 2-3 families with water to drink, wash and cook for at least 10 years. 

Tube wells are manually operated and lift filtered water up to about 100 feet beneath the ground with mininal maintenance. 

Over the last 10 years, Muslim Hands has installed over 10,000 such wells.

Read more about our tube wells here: Tube wells.

Underground storage tanks


There are times where water storage is just as important as accessing water itself. Our underground water storage tanks hold water for communities to use for their daily needs. 

Constructed using bricks and cement, these tanks are built in areas where the water table is too low and are filled on a regular basis by mobile water tankers. 

Underground storage tanks have been constructed in Sudan. 

In numbers: The global water crisis

  • 800 million

    people on the planet don't have access to clean drinking water

  • 88%

    of all diseases are caused by drinking unsafe water and inadequate sanitation

  • 90%

    of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water are children under five

In pictures