Water and Sanitation (WASH)

We work to provide safe drinking water and eliminate open defecation.

UNICEF Nepa/2018/AKarki


To provide improved and equitable access and use of safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services to all children and their families.

Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children.  Without these basic needs, the lives of millions of children are at risk. For children under five, water- and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death. Every day, children die from preventable diseases caused by poor water, and a lack of sanitation and hygiene.

“10.8 million people in Nepal do not have access to improved sanitation, and 3.5 million do not have access to basic water services.”

Nepal has made significant progresses in expanding access to water and sanitation over the last few decades despite tremendous challenges such as poverty, difficult terrains and conflicts. Compared to 46 per cent in 1990, ninety-five per cent of households now have access to improved water sources and sixty-two per cent of households are using an improved sanitation facility, up from 6 per cent in 1990.But

Functional status of water schemes and the quality of water remains poor with 71 per cent of all water sources and 91 per cent of those used by the poorest quintile contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria.

Only 25 per cent of the water supply is reported to be fully functioning and almost 40 per cent requires major repairs. 

Open defecation is still practiced by 16 per cent of the population (NDHS). 

Twenty per cent of government schools lack improved water and sanitation facilities, with an additional 19 per cent lacking separate toilets for girls and boys and menstrual hygiene management facilities.

UNICEF Nepa/2015/CSKarki
A woman carries water from the source to her house.


Provided improved and equitable access to and use of safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services to all children and their families by 2022.

In this country program (2018-2022), UNICEF’s  WASH component is guided by the WASH Sector Development Plan (2016–2030), to be implemented by the Ministry of Water Supply. Our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) section works in Nepal to improve water and sanitation services, as well as basic hygiene practices.  We work to

  • Improve access to safe water at schools and health care facilities through inter-sectoral collaboration.
  • Scale up sanitation social movement and the total sanitation concept.
  • Engage private sector to promote improved hygiene practices and create markets for sanitation.
  • Advocate for gender and disability-friendly sanitation facilities in health facilities, ECD centres and schools.
  • Use mass media and social media to raise awareness on hygiene behaviours including menstrual hygiene management practices.
  • Improve water quality by strengthening the water regulatory body, implementing water safety plans, and enhancing community awareness on household-level water treatments.
  • Develop a strategy to ensure the access of unreached populations to safe water and strengthen the functionality, coverage, sustainability and resilience of water supply systems.
  • Support government to formulae a new WASH act and revise policies to promote gender equality and social inclusion in access to WASH facilities.
  • Mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Action (CCA)  component into existing WASH policies and provide support to enhanced preparedness.
UNICEF Nepa/2016/NShrestha
Girls on their way to collect water