Global Program for Water

Across the world, women are forced to waste precious time walking long distances to collect dirty water. Girls are dropping out of school because there are no private toilets, and young children are not surviving to see their fifth birthday because of preventable diseases.

The lack of clean drinking water and functioning toilets affects the lives of millions of people. More than 10% of the world’s population still live without safe water to drink and must drink water that can make them sick, and one in three live without a decent toilet. In the Global Program for Water, the H&M Foundation together with WaterAid, worked to change this.

In Phase 1 of the Global Program with WaterAid (2014-2017), we focused on ensuring clean water and sanitation for 250,000 school children, enabling them to stay in school and get the most out of their education. Although huge steps have been made in giving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services to millions of people worldwide, sustainability poses a critical challenge to the sector. In many countries, the systems and institutions needed to ensure sustainability are extremely weak or non-existent.

Building on the success of Phase 1, the second phase addressed the underlying barriers, may they be social, financial, environmental, institutional, legal, capacity-related or technical, that have an impact on the sustainability of services.

It’s evident that strong systems are needed to ensure lasting change and benefits to everyone in the society. System strengthening means understanding that WASH exists in complex systems with many component parts and within different social, economic, political and environmental contexts. It involves identifying and working to address the barriers in behaviours, policies, processes, resources, interactions and institutions that block achievement of inclusive, lasting and universal access to WASH.

We are immensely proud of the initial steps towards real systemic, long-lasting change that have been taken in the program.”

— Anna Johansen, Global Programme Manager SusWASH, WaterAid

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene are basic human rights and not a privilege. But still, hundreds of millions of people around world are denied these basic rights. This has to change. Together, the H&M Foundation and WaterAid have been bold in our efforts to find innovative approaches to do so. We are immensely proud of the initial steps towards real systemic, long-lasting change that have been taken in the SusWASH program. We are equally proud to, in this report, share what we have learned, in the hope that others will join us in making lasting access to water, sanitation and hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere”, says Anna Johansen, Global Programme Manager SusWASH at WaterAid.


Strengthening WASH systems takes time. However, many positive changes have been observed since the start of the second phase of our global program, SusWASH, in April 2017:

  • In Cambodia, national and provincial WASH action plans have been reviewed by relevant ministries and updated on the basis of up-to-date data helping to inform investment decisions.
  • In Ethiopia, a costed district WASH plan has helped to attract additional WASH investment to the district.
  • In Uganda, in partnership with others, an order to improve the regulation of sewerage and faecal sludge management in Kampala was passed by Kampala City Council.
  • In Pakistan, the province-wide school management information system now includes WASH indicators to enable school WASH status to be monitored and measured over time to inform decision-making.

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Zahida Jakhro is a strong-willed person determined to bring change to her village. And she has an ambitious goal – to make her village free from open defecation. With the help from WaterAid and funding from H&M Foundation, she’s teaching the people in her community about the importance of good hygiene practises.