Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Access to water and sanitation is a right for every child, and is fundamental to the enjoyment of other rights such as the rights to survival, health and development

WASH in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2017/Giacomo Pirozzi


In Egypt, water infrastructure coverage has grown substantially over the last decades. In 2014, around 91 percent of the Egyptian population received water directly into their residence.[1] However, while access to water is almost universal and reliable in urban areas, a significant number of households are still not connected with the water system in rural areas and in urban slums.[2] 7.3 million people are deprived of access to safe water, among which 5.8 million live in rural areas and 1.5 million in urban areas. In rural areas, around 12 percent of the population live in dwellings not connected to the water system while, in urban areas, it’s 4 percent which do not have water connection. They are usually located in urban slums and poor settlements.[1] In urban slum areas, only around 77 percent of households have piped water coming into their homes and in many cases the connection is illegal.

In Egypt, 8.4 million people are deprived of access to improved sanitation, mostly in rural areas. Overall, 10 percent of the Egyptian population did not benefit from access to improved sanitation, with marked geographical and socio-economic disparities in 2014.[1] In rural areas, on average, the share of population without access to adequate sanitation was around 15 percent in 2014, compared with around 1 percent among urban dwellers.1 96 percent of all Egyptian households have place for washing hands, with no substantial difference between urban and rural households. However, in rural areas, around 13 percent of those households don’t use soap or other detergent.[1]

Regarding water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, most updated statistics report access to piped water coverage at 98 percent in urban areas and at 84 percent in rural areas.

Lack of access to safe water and proper sanitation facilities as well as poor hygiene contribute to the spreading of diseases, which significantly and negatively impact on children’s health and nutrition. In Egypt, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among under-5 children. Most diarrhea-related deaths in children are due to dehydration from loss of large quantities of water and electrolytes. Statistics show that 3,500 – 4,000 under-five children die of diarrhea every year.[3]



[1] Egypt Demographic and Health Survey 2014

[2] ISDF and UNICEF (2013) “Multidimensional Child Poverty in Slums and Unplanned Areas in Egypt”

[3] WHO, World Health Report 2015


UNICEF’s interventions on water, sanitation and hygiene center around (i) providing safe water through direct water connections to the homes of the most deprived families and (ii) raising awareness on hygiene and environmental friendly practices. UNICEF supports these interventions in partnership with the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW), local authorities, and associations.


Access to safe water:

In the past ten years, UNICEF Interventions focused on providing safe water directly in the homes of the most deprived families. 17,832 households were supplied with safe water, reaching an estimate of 90,000 people in rural areas of the governorates of Assiut, Sohag, Fayoum, Minyia and Qena, and in two poor informal settlements of the Cairo governorate.

The initiative is currently being expanded to new districts through the ‘Water for Life’ initiative launched in partnership with the Rotary Club and the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW). Between mid-2013 and May 2016, 8,000 household water connections were provided, reaching around 40,000 people in the same target areas. A revolving fund mechanism has been established to support the implementation of the water connection programme.
Between mid-2013 and 2017, water, hygiene and sanitation facilities were improved in 39 schools to the benefit of 29,000 primary school children. More than 190 teachers received training on water, sanitation and hygiene, and 30 workers were trained on plumbing.
Furthermore, UNICEF provides technical support to the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) and governorate water companies. In this regard, 420 staff members could enhance their skills in problem solving, monitoring and evaluation, and customer satisfaction. An additional 240 staff received training on managing and sustaining the revolving fund mechanism.

Raising awareness on better hygiene, sanitation and environment-friendly practices:

The key messages conveyed through this intervention focus on (i) hand washing with soap, (ii) water conservation and preservation in public spaces and at home, (iii) safe and clean water sources, (iv) proper use and cleaning of sanitation facilities at home, in schools and other public places, and (v) information about the main service provider: Holding Company for Water and Wastewater.

Between mid-2013 and 2017 around 29,000 families were reached through this intervention. Moreover, between 2007 and 2014, about 200,000 school children in over 370 primary schools were reached through hygiene awareness campaign in the governorates of Assiut, Sohag and Qena. This effort also included capacity building for 2,000 staff members who would conduct future awareness activities. Child-to-child, child-to-parents and parents-to-the community approaches have been adopted as entry points for better sanitation and hygiene practices. Two major training manuals were issued: (i) Integrating HEEA in Community-based projects, and (ii) social marketing WASH.
This initiative will be scaled up to increase the number of target vulnerable communities in line with the expansion of the water connection programme.