Reach Out and Reach Up: A global study on external perceptions of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene


New Study by Sanitation and Water for All Looks at Changing External Perceptions of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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

Conducted by Browning Environmental Communications, the study gathered insights from 200 decision-makers across climate, health, human rights, humanitarian response and economic development sectors.

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals – from climate action to gender equality and economic growth – are deeply intertwined and are intended to be achieved together,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA CEO.

“However, often decision-makers ineffectively pursue one goal at the expense of others. We can’t achieve climate goals if countries are facing water scarcity, or gender equality when women and girls are blocked from education and employment opportunities due to the lack of period-friendly sanitation. We need to change our mindsets, the way we act, the way we plan and work if we want to achieve the world we want.”

In an effort to change external perceptions, the SWA-commissioned study delves into the key concerns that many external decision-makers have, from worrying that investment in water, sanitation and hygiene will detract from reaching their own sector goals, to external influences like political election cycles.

It also offers eight key recommendations to strengthen advocacy efforts with other sectors, as well as key messaging which is likely to resonate more effectively with political leaders.

Recommendations include better reflecting the cost-benefits of investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, demonstrating how cross-sector partnerships can realize ambitious development agendas, and highlighting links to safety and security, in particular for marginalized groups such as women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other vulnerable groups.

“We hope this study helps improve advocacy efforts among water, sanitation and hygiene organizations worldwide,” said de Albuquerque. “The only way we can truly achieve sustainable development and leave no one behind is by working together.”



Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is a multi-stakeholder partnership of governments and their partners from civil society, the private sector, UN agencies, research and learning institutions and the philanthropic community. Together, SWA partners stimulate high-level political dialogue - at the country, regional and global levels - and coordinate and monitor progress toward the sanitation, water and hygiene-related targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For more information visit

Alexandra Reis
Head of Communications
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)