Global water challenges
A woman carries water from a well in northern Ghana. Between 1990 and 2008, access to safe drinking water in Ghana rose from 56 to 83 per cent. But still more than three million people remain without access. Many of them live in the less-developed north of the countryJon Spaull
A mother waits to collect water from a hole in the ground. This open water source in northern Ghana is also used by livestock and other animals, leading to contaminationonJon Spaull
A boy with water collected from a well in northern Ghana. Each year, 443 million school days are lost across the developing world due to water-related illnesses, according to the UNJon Spaull
A girl pumps water at a well in northern Ghana. Many children in Africa miss school due to time spent collecting water. Girls are mainly responsible for collecting water for their familiesJon Spaull
Children collect water from a lake. This lake in northern Ghana is also used by cattle, increasing the risk of contaminationJon Spaull
A woman collecting water from a lake used by cattle, northern GhanaJon Spaull
Children wash at a newly installed well in Malawi. In all, 2.4 million Malawians lack access to safe water and 14.3 million or 90 per cent lack access to adequate sanitation, according to charity WaterAidJon Spaull
Women carry water from a well in Niassa province in north-west Mozambique. Over half the countrys population lack access to a safe water source. On average, women in Africa and Asia must walk six kilometres to collect water. This significantly reduces how long they can dedicate to agriculture and other income generating activitiesJon Spaull
Kamla Nehru Nagar slum, Bihar. This state in north-east India is one of the least economically and socially developed in the country. Here, children carry water past an open sewer and a mound of rubbish. In India, 186,000 children die every year from diarrhoea largely caused by unsafe water and sanitationJon Spaull
A girl crosses a makeshift bridge above an open sewer in the Kamla Nehru Nagar slum, India. The sewer is also used as a toilet and a rubbish dump. Young children have fallen off this bamboo bridge and drowned. Two-thirds of Indians, or 791 million people, lack access to adequate sanitation, according to WaterAidJon Spaull
A man fills a bottle with drinking water from a pipe that runs through an open sewer in Digha Maharajganj slum, Bihar, India. Such pipes often burst, causing the untreated sewage to contaminate the drinking waterJon Spaull
Children and women wash pots by a water pipe in Digha Maharajganj slum, India. The rubbish and waste water mix with the water from the pipe. These people belong to the Dalit rag picking caste. In Bihar, the caste system is still in evidence today.Jon Spaull
Goal 6 includes a 2030 target to “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.
The photographs above, which illustrate some of these issues, were taken in Africa and India by Jon Spaull on assignment for charity WaterAid over the course of several years. They are published to mark World Water Day on 22 March.