CDC at Work: Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Fact Sheets: CDC’s Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Program Overview [PDF – 1 page]
CDC’s Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Program Impact [PDF – 1 page]

Inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions exist in a range of settings, from temporary refugee camps to permanent homes in large cities.

CDC’s global WASH program provides expertise and interventions aimed at saving lives and reducing illness by improving global access to healthy and safe water, adequate sanitation, and improved hygiene. The WASH program works on long-term prevention and control measures for improving health, reducing poverty, and improving socio-economic development as well as responding to global emergencies and outbreaks of life-threatening illnesses. These improvements reduce the lethal impact of WASH-related diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis.

CDC’s global WASH work is focused in six areas and involves partnerships with other US government agencies, Ministries of Health, non-governmental agencies, and various international agencies.

Making Water Safe to Drink and Use
Storage jars from CDC's Safe Water System program at a mosque in Niger
Photo courtesy of D. Lantagne

Promoting access to safe water, household water treatment options and water safety plans, which identify water quality threats in community water systems and water utilities, while implementing solutions to those threats.

Improving Hygiene and Sanitation
Chinese school children washing their hands at an outdoor washing station.
Photo courtesy of A. Bowen

Improving the efficacy, sustainability, and integration of hygiene and sanitation interventions into communities and institutions, such as schools.

Improving Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Healthcare Facilities
Bottles of hand sanitizer

Improving access to safe water, improved sanitation, sufficient hygiene infrastructure (WASH), and adequate waste management in healthcare facilities in order to improve access to quality healthcare.

Responding to Complex International Emergencies and Outbreaks
People in front of their homes in a refugee camp.
Photo CDC Foundation

Deploying emergency response and outbreak investigation teams at the request of foreign governments and U.N. agencies.


Controlling and Eliminating Disease
Borehole well in Sierra Leone.
Photo courtesy of S. Roy

Identifying WASH-related factors needed to control or eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) like Guinea worm disease, trachoma, and intestinal worm infections, which impact hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Identifying and Characterizing Disease
Epidemiologist tests a sample.
Photo CDC Foundation

Investigating the causes of illness, such as diarrhea, to provide critical health data for decision making. Additional links:

Educating and Training about Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
Microbiologist trains workers.
Photo CDC Foundation

Developing model programs and materials for public health staff training and community health promotion.