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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Improving Access to Clean Water and Basic Sanitation



Explore the global issue of access to clean water and basic sanitation and analyze trends around the world. Students consider the relationships between water and sanitation and other global issues and review examples of Peace Corps Volunteer projects around the world. Finally, students will plan a World Water Day event in their own community to raise awareness about water sanitation as a global concern.


More than a billion people in the world lack adequate access to clean water. More than two billion people lack adequate access to basic sanitation. Without these resources – which the United Nations have declared an essential human right – individuals and communities may be unable to maintain good health and meeting their development goals.

While most people in the United States do have regular access to clean water and basic sanitation, it is vital for all of us to understand water as a shared global resource and to recognize the ways we can help improve access for all.


You will investigate the global issue of water and sanitation access. You will research which regions of the world experience the greatest challenges, why these regions are most affected, and the impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.

Next, you will review some examples of ways Peace Corps Volunteers are working with communities around the world on water and sanitation issues. After considering the global relevance of water and sanitation, you will plan an event in honor of World Water Day to raise public awareness about the issue.

Use the information collection worksheet and use it to record information as you work through the WebQuest.


Your work will be evaluated according to the chart on the extension tab below.

Materials & Procedures


  1. Why is water access a global issue?

    Freshwater is a limited resource necessary for the survival of all living things on Earth. View the statistics on the Earth’s water resources.

    • If the earth is covered in water, why do you think some communities in the world would lack regular access to useable water?
    • Look at the map of current water use and predicted population growth by U.S. state. How do you anticipate population growth might change our water availability and consumption?
    • If there is a limited amount of freshwater on Earth available for our growing population to use, what consequences could this have for equitable access to water resources and sustainable consumption of water in future generations?

  2. Who has access to clean water?

    Look at the map showing the percentage of people in the world using improved water sources, or technologies such as piped household water connections and protected wells that prevent water from contamination.

    • Which regions have the lowest percentage of people using improved drinking water sources?
    • Are there differences between urban and rural populations in terms of water access?
    • Why do you think these differences exist?
  3. Who has access to basic sanitation?

    Now look at the map showing the percentage of people in the world using improved sanitation facilities, or technologies such as toilets, latrines, septic tanks, and sewer systems that safely dispose of human waste.

    • Which countries have the lowest percentage of people using improved sanitation facilities?
    • How do trends in access to basic sanitation compare to trends in access to improved water sources?
    • How do you think access to water is related to access to sanitation?
  4. What are the consequences of lack of water and sanitation access?

    Review the following links:

    10 facts on sanitation
    Water facts

    • How do water and sanitation access relate to each of the following areas? Give one example for each:
      • Health
      • Agriculture/Food Security
      • Gender Equality
      • Poverty
  5. What are Peace Corps Volunteers doing to address water and sanitation issues?

    View the examples of Peace Corps projects around the world to address water access issues.

    For two of the projects:

    • Identify the problem and solution presented
    • Explain why you think the project was successful in the community in which it was implemented?

  6. What can you do to increase awareness of water and sanitation issues?

    Now that you have researched water and sanitation as a global issue, think about some actions people in your community could take to assist with one of the following goals:

    • Improve equitable water access in the world
    • Improve access to sanitation facilities in the world
    • Use water more sustainably

    Come up with a plan for a World Water Day event in your community that can raise public awareness about water and sanitation as a global issue, and inspire people to take action. 

  7. Conclusion

    Reflect on your experience by writing about or discussing:

    • Why do you think there is unequal access to water and sanitation resources?
    • What global water and sanitation challenges do you predict in the future? What could be done to address these challenges?
    • What can you do to promote sustainable use of the earth’s water resources?


Discuss possible causes and effects of unequal access to water and sanitation No causes or effects identified. Few causes or effects identified. Multiple causes and effects identified. Multiple causes and effects identified; implications considered and discussed  
Describe global trends in water and sanitation access Trends not identified Few trends identified but not clearly described Trends identified and described Multiple trends identified and clearly described  
Relate water and sanitation to other global issues. Water and sanitation not described as related to other global issues. Some other global issues related to water and sanitation are identified. Relationship between water and sanitation and several other global issues is described Water and sanitation is thoughtfully described as an issue impacting various other global issues.  
Describe community-based solutions to water and sanitation issues. No solutions described Few solutions described Variety of solutions described Variety of solutions described for multiple community contexts  
Develop clear strategy for increasing local awareness of global water and sanitation issues. No strategy developed. Strategy somewhat developed. Strategy fully developed and described. Creative strategy fully developed, along with an action plan for implementing the strategy  
World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.