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ACF - © Cyril Zannettacci Agence Vu' pour Action contre la Faim-min © Cyril Zannettacci / Agence Vu' pour Action contre la Faim


Water Conference

Action Against Hunger calls for better financing of the sector and a better international governance mechanism

Action Against Hunger calls on governments to introduce measures for better international cooperation on water issues and better financing of the sector, particularly regarding the humanitarian response.  


4 figures on the water crisis  


  1. 1 in four people worldwide do not have access to drinking water (WHO/UNICEF 2021);  
  2. Half of the world’s population lives without a securely managed sanitation system;  
  3. Every year, 485,000 people die of diarrhoea (WHO, 2020) due to a lack of adequate sanitation and drinking water (WHO 2019);  
  4. By 2050, due to the diminishing resource, more than half of the world’s population could lack water (UN-Water).  


United Nations Water Conference: what’s at stake?  


Despite the major challenges faced currently (primarily the climate crisis and COVID pandemic), governments seldom discuss water and sanitation issues together. The Water Conference scheduled by the UN in New York on 22, 23 and 24 March 2023 is therefore highly anticipated by civil society stakeholders. In fact, it will be the first intergovernmental conference exclusively dedicated to water for 46 years (the last one being the Mar Del Plata conference in 1977). It will assess the progress made in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals related to water and will identify the challenges and obstacles that hinder their achievement.   

The organisers (the UN, the Netherlands and Tajikistan) aim to spark greater shared awareness in the area of water and resource management and to ensure that the conference proves to be a decisive moment for the whole world. One of the main outcomes expected from the event is the “Water Action Agenda”, a compilation of all the voluntary commitments made by nations, private and academic stakeholders and civil society to actions designed to deliver on Water issues. The conference also aims to highlight the commitments that will make a significant contribution to the global effort to resolve the water and sanitation crisis. It will then establish a clear agenda for the second half of the timetable for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, up to 2030.  

ACF - © Cyril Zannettacci Agence Vu' pour Action contre la Faim (2)-min © Cyril Zannettacci / Agence Vu' pour Action contre la Faim

© Cyril Zannettacci / Agence Vu' pour Action contre la Faim

ACF - © Peter Caton pour Action contre la Faim (4)-min © Peter Caton pour Action contre la Faim

© Peter Caton pour Action contre la Faim


What are the proposals/demands from Action Against Hunger? 


Ahead of the conference, Action Against Hunger, Secours Islamique France and the Water Coalition conducted a joint campaign calling on Emmanuel Macron to participate and spearhead the mobilisation of the international community.  

Currently, the humanitarian sector’s efforts in water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) fail to meet humanitarian needs in situations of fragility, conflict and violence for various reasons, including the lack of stakeholder capacity and a chronic lack of funding (UN-coordinated humanitarian appeals are generally only 60% funded).  

Therefore, against the background this conference, a group of some forty humanitarian organisations involved in the water sector, including Action Against Hunger, are addressing a firm call to action to the States, with an ambitious objective: to secure the capacity and resources required to provide quality water, sanitation and hygiene solutions on a wide scale, everywhere and at all times, by 2025.  

With the steady rise in the number and severity of humanitarian crises, the stakeholders in the water sector are not able to respond to needs adequately. Action Against Hunger speaks for nearly 40 humanitarian stakeholders involved in the WASH Roadmap, supported by Switzerland and the NGO Save the Children, and including major players such as the ICRC and the Global WASH Cluster, to alert to this critical issue. The solution lies in an increased financial effort to respond to humanitarian crises, but also in an increased local response capacity and optimal coordination with States on emergency preparedness plans. At the same time, there is a call not to target water infrastructure in conflict zones, so as not to affect civilian populations, plus a call for a four-fold increase in financial commitments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water by 2030.” Dr Jean Lapegue, Head of the WASH Department, Action Against Hunger 


What are the main proposals of this call to action?  


  1. Focus efforts on people living in fragile, conflict-affected and violent environments.  
  2. Further support WASH humanitarian action and coordination to provide effective (timely) and adequate responses.  
  3. Build and rebuild sustainable and resilient WASH services that can withstand crises. In particular, improving and adapting existing systems, from infrastructures to communities, should be systematic, especially in the countries most exposed to multiple risks.  
  4. Actively promote the effective implementation of obligations under International Humanitarian Law, to protect WASH infrastructures and personnel during armed conflicts.  
  5. Ask the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint a UN Special Envoy for Water to establish and coordinate a recurrent intergovernmental mechanism where States can discuss global water-related problems and support Member States in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Water) and the ten other SDGs directly related to Water (e.g. poverty reduction, health, nutrition, etc.).  


Download and invite your organisation to sign the full Call to Action here

Action Against Hunger at the United Nations Water Conference 


Official side-event: Wash sector capacity and funding 

March 24th, 8 am (ETC) (and online on Zoom) 
777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (Church Center), 8th Floor, in front of the United Nations headquarters 

The event will present the challenges facing the WASH sector and the human impact of these gaps. It will highlight the problem of chronic underfunding and propose some concrete responses.  

With the participation of: Action Against Hunger, Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, Development Bank of Latin America/World Water Council, French Ministry for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, French Water Agencies, French Water Partnership, Global WASH Cluster/Wash Cluster Burkina Faso, International Organization for Migration, Secours Islamique France, Solidarités International, Solidev Burkina Faso, SOS Sahel, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UN Water.



What is the link between lack of water and hunger?  


Water is central to human health and dignity. The conditions of access to water, sanitation and hygiene have a direct effect on nutrition, resources, peace, gender inequality, access to education and culture.   

The three main causes of undernutrition (inadequate or insufficient food, poor care practices and disease) are directly or indirectly linked to water, sanitation and hygiene. To combat hunger, water-borne diseases must be addressed, especially in children under 5 (800 children under five die of diarrhoea every day). A lack of drinking water combined with non-compliant sanitation causes diseases such as diarrhoea and intestinal infections, intestinal worms and parasites, which lead to poor absorption of the nutrients needed for survival, reduced appetite, and dehydration of the child.  


Press contact: Marie Tapia – – +33 6 70 53 81 45  


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