Reach Out and Reach Up: A Global Study of External Perceptions of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – World


New research from Sanitation and Water for All examines changing external perceptions of water, sanitation and hygiene

GENEVA, June 28, 2022 – The global partnership Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) today published the findings of a global study on external perceptions of water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as barriers to political prioritization and investment.

Led by Browning Environmental Communications, the study gathered information from 200 decision makers from the climate, health, human rights, humanitarian response and economic development sectors.

“The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – from climate action to gender equality and economic growth – are deeply connected and must be achieved together,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of SWA.

“However, decision-makers often pursue one goal ineffectively at the expense of others. We cannot achieve climate goals if countries face water scarcity or gender equality when women and girls are deprived of education and employment opportunities due to lack of sanitation adapted to the rules. We must change our mentalities, our way of acting, our way of planning and working if we want to achieve the world we want.

In an effort to change external perceptions, the study commissioned by SWA addresses the main concerns of many external decision makers, from the fear that investment in water, sanitation and hygiene will undermine the achievement from their own sectoral objectives, to external influences such as political and electoral cycles.

It also offers eight key recommendations for strengthening advocacy efforts with other sectors, as well as key messages that can resonate more effectively with political leaders.

Recommendations include better consideration of the cost-benefits of investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, demonstrating how partnerships across sectors can deliver ambitious development agendas, and highlighting connections to safety and security, especially for marginalized groups such as women, LGBTQ+ people, and other vulnerable groups.

“We hope this study will help improve advocacy efforts among water, sanitation and hygiene organizations around the world,” said de Albuquerque. “The only way to truly achieve sustainable development and leave no one behind is to work together.”



Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is a multi-stakeholder partnership between governments and their partners in civil society, the private sector, UN agencies, research and learning institutions and the philanthropic community. Together, SWA partners stimulate high-level policy dialogue – at national, regional and global levels – and coordinate and monitor progress towards sanitation, water and hygiene related targets of the Development Goals sustainable development of the United Nations. For more information, visit

Alexandra Reis
Communications Manager
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)
[email protected]

Shirlene J. Manley