According to the World Health Organization, 780 million people lack access to an improved water source and 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities. Unsafe drinking water and improper sanitation and hygiene contribute to around 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases. An estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years old die from diarrhoea every year, which means that about 2,200 children are dying each day as a result of a preventable disease. In addition, millions of girls and women have to deal with deeply-rooted menstruation taboos. And a lack of education, sanitary products and hygienic facilities means they go through embarrassment and social exclusion every month and face the risk of serious infections. Lack of access to clean cooking solutions and the resulting exposure to household air pollution causes respiratory illnesses and about 4.3 million deaths each year.

All this needs to stop! 

Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. But for this to happen by 2030, we all need to contribute. Access to improved WASH services can prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths, and can significantly reduce stunting among children. Proper menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) can significantly improve both the physical health and the social and mental well-being of millions of girls and women around the world. In addition, according to IRENA, doubling renewables could save over 4 million lives annually.

So, how is SNV’s work contributing to SDG3?

Our work directly contributes to target 3.2 - end preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age; target 3.7 - ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services; and target 3.9 - substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.

Read on to find out how we tackle some of these issues and discover inspiring stories of people who work hard every day to make a change in their families and communities. Also make sure to join the Twitter conversation.

Clean water, sanitation & hygiene in rural areas

Through the Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services product, we increase the reliability of water supply, sustainability of water systems, affordability of services, and access to water for all. The Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All (SSH4A) approach aims to ensure equitable and sustainable access to improved sanitation and hygiene by supporting the delivery of district-wide rural sanitation and hygiene services. Our programmes (funded by donors such as DFIDUSAID and DFAT) trigger sanitation demand, strengthen sanitation supply chains, stimulate hygiene behaviour change and address governance by also looking at gender and social inclusion. Explore some examples below:

  • Improving the lives of people with disabilities through better sanitation & hygiene – Ethiopia
  • The ins-and-outs of achieving open defecation free (ODF) villages in Cambodia

Sanitation & hygiene for people with disabilities in Ethiopia

ODF villages in Cambodia

Check out a photo story of the 2017 Nepal Sanitation Week and watch the video below to find out how Bhutan is moving towards 100% access to improved sanitation & hygiene.

With proper sanitation and hygiene playing a major role in reducing stunting among children, we often integrate this approach in projects tackling malnutrition.

Sustainable nutrition for all in Uganda & Zambia

Improving nutrition in Northern Laos

Clean water, sanitation & hygiene in urban areas

We support local governments and water management organisations (public or private) to improve water supply service sand address issues such as water quality, illegal connections and unserved areas. In the majority of cities and emerging towns in developing countries, wastewater and human waste are dumped untreated in local waterways, on marginal land or in open drains close to people’s homes. People often rely on on-site sanitation facilities and manual emptying, without proper sanitation regulations, adequate gear or services in place – polluting the local environment and posing a huge health risk to themselves and communities at large. Through the Urban Sanitation & Hygiene for Health and Development product we address this reality and aim to reform the way in which human waste is managed by developing sustainable and scalable city-wide sanitation services. Read some examples below:

In Bangladesh, septic tank emptiers are the nation’s poorest and most marginalised group. They play a vital role in managing human waste, but their jobs are poorly paid, unregulated and harmful to their health. The problem is immediate and impossible to ignore, which is why the Pro-poor market-based solutions for faecal sludge management programme funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID is working on solutions to both cleaning up the country's cities and building sustainable livelihoods in the waste business.

Browse this photo story and watch the video below to better understand the urgency of the situation. This is a story of those left behind, a story that has to change!

Through the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) programme funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we support civil society organisations (CSOs) in six countries to effectively voice their views, gather evidence, effect structural change and create an 'enabling environment' for participatory development at all levels. For example, in Ghana we have been working with CSO Intervention Forum to address sanitation challenges in Kasoa.

In Niger, the Youth, Advocacy, Women, Work and Alliances (YAWWA) programme funded by USAID supports entrepreneurs and innovators like Djibril Seydou to scale up social enterprises that increase civic engagement and positively affect communities. As most public markets in Niamey entirely lack any sanitation facilities, Djibril saw both a way to improve sanitation and health in the community as well as a business opportunity. With a grant from the YAWWA programme, he developed a simple, yet innovative technology: mobile public toilets.

Sanitation as a right and a civic responsibility - Ghana

Mobile public toilets in Niamey, Niger

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) & Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) 

Good MHM plays a fundamental role in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. We aim to break down taboos around menstruation and ensure menstrual health is firmly on the agenda of education policy makers. In this way, we can create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – in privacy, safety and with dignity. Let's educate on menstruation, because it matters!

Watch how the Girls in Control project funded by WaterAid and Unicef is addressing the MHM issue in EthiopiaTanzania and Zimbabwe.  

In Bangladesh, with support from the Dutch Embassy, we address the health needs of female workers in the garment industry by working with factories to ensure the adoption of responsible and inclusive business practices as well as the provision of gender-responsive affordable and quality SRHR services.

And in Niger, the YAWWA programme is empowering this young mother and entrepreneur to provide critical health information to Niger's women. In a country where a high maternal mortality rate is one of the many shocks and stresses that challenge the population, Mahamadou Touré Nadia Jean is addressing the issue through a mobile app that delivers prenatal and maternal health information to mothers.

SRHR for women working in the garment industry of Bangladesh

Health app for Niger's mothers

Clean cooking and heating

Household air pollution is the single most important environmental health risk worldwide. Women and children suffer most from the adverse impacts of energy poverty as they spend a significant proportion of their time in the home and are responsible for cooking and gathering wood. Our energy products offer solutions for clean cooking, heating and chilling through the creation of sustainable markets for biogas and clean cookstoves. They reduce indoor air pollution and related health hazards, decrease carbon emissions and lead to time and cost savings for households, in particular for women.

For example, the EnDev-funded Market Acceleration of Advanced Clean Cookstoves in the Greater Mekong Sub-regionproject aims to start a sustainable market for clean smokeless cookstoves through the sales of 120,000 devices in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in the 2015-2019 period. One of the many people reached is Ms. Vu Thi Nhan's, who recently switched to a clean cookstove and is now enjoying its multiple benefits.

Among the channels we have used to raise awareness about the issue was the 6th Edition of the Research Week for Development in Laos where we showcased a variety of gasifier stoves, aiming to inspire Lao youth to become more engaged in public health challenges.

But a question remains: can health campaigns spur adoption of clean cookstoves? Check out a study we conducted with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in Cambodia and Kenya to find out.

Also watch the video below to discover how we're fighting the silent killer in the kitchen.

By joining forces to address all these issues, we can accelerate progress towards SDG3. Let's say 'no' to preventable diseases. Let's say 'no' to menstruation taboos. Let's stand up and do our part. Let's build a world in which everyone has the chance to live a healthy life. The clock is ticking.

Written by Laura Tufis, SNV Global Marketing & Communications Advisor.