A water-secure region with well-managed water and sanitation services is essential to ensuring a strong, prosperous and secure Australia.

Today, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion people lack safely-managed hygiene services.[1] On top of this, 1.9 billion people live in water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to 3 billion people.[2]

The facts are clear: demand for freshwater is increasing and is expected to rise by up to 30 per cent by 2030 and it is becoming scarcer. Pollution is also a growing challenge with over 80 per cent of wastewater flowing back into the environment without any treatment.

As a dry continent, Australia is familiar with drought and water scarcity. In the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper we have committed to sharing our expertise to enhance agricultural productivity, improve health outcomes, strengthen economies and reduce poverty.

We are pulling our weight. In 2016-17, Australia provided access to safe water for over 1.5 million people and access to basic sanitation for over 2.9 million people across our region. This work is set to continue under the Water for Women Fund. It will deliver water, sanitation and hygiene services in 16 countries through partnerships with civil society organisations. This assistance will help ensure girls do not miss out on education because schools do not have adequate toilets. It will also help to free women from the daily burden of carting water.

Through the Australian Water Partnership, we share our experience with countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and beyond. Australian know-how is respected and is making a contribution to water certainty for the future.

The Prime Minister’s membership of the UN-World Bank High Level Panel on Water highlighted Australia’s commitment to accelerating global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Through the Panel, Australia led important initiatives that improved water data, inspired better solutions for urgent water challenges and helped others find a path to improved water resource management under scarcity.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7110
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555