There is a global water and sanitation crisis. A staggering 2.3 billion people across the globe do not have access to adequate sanitation, and almost 1 billion still practice open defecation. The latest WHO data (2015) shows that the fecal waste of 4.5 billion people is discharged into the environment without proper treatment. About 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safe water from home. Of those people, 844 million do not have basic drinking water services. Every minute, one child dies from diarrheal diseases, which are strongly associated with poor water and lack of sanitation. More than one billion people in 14 countries suffer from neglected tropical diseases associated with poor water and sanitation, such as helminthiases, trachoma, and schistosomiasis.
The world’s attention has turned to the Sustainable Development Goals related to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH). The lack of success in meeting WaSH needs in developing countries highlights the complexity of the water and sanitation challenges. The interconnected impacts of culture, economics, policy, and human behavior on water and sanitation issues make the problems extremely complicated. NC State University established the Global WaSH Cluster to conduct critical research and teaching in water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Our diverse faculty transforms NC State’s talented and service-oriented students into effective WaSH practitioners.