Tackling the water, sanitation and hygiene crisis, one SPLASH at a time

Words by Pete Yao
26 February, 2020

Today, there is a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) crisis.

785 million people still lack access to basic drinking-water services, meaning they are commonly drinking water from contaminated sources.

There are 2 billion people without access to toilets.

And, 3 billion people don’t have hand washing facilities in their house.

As a result, 1.9 million deaths are attributed to having a lack of access to WASH, which represents 3.3% of all global deaths. This represents 13% of deaths for children under 5.

These statistics are of course shocking, and when we consider the scale of what is needed to solve it, it is no doubt overwhelming to imagine the resources required. What is clear though is that not one solution or program can be a silver bullet to solving the WASH crisis and ultimately alleviate affects of poverty in developing countries. We can’t go at this huge feat alone.

That’s why for the last 11 years, Thankyou has been partnering with global impactful organisations, experienced in the local community development to help end global poverty.

So, today, I wanted to hero one of our incredible project partners Splash, and share some insight into the programs that together we help fund in Ethiopia.

Splash Approach

Splash envisions a world where all children have the opportunity to lead healthy lives.

They do this by targeting community institutions such as schools & health facilities in underserved regions with access to WASH services. Because of their strong focus on sustained impact, they believe in working through a coalition approach (with relevant government, business, and social actors) to improve WASH infrastructure for the long haul.

The team at Splash leverage the best thinking from the business sector in the design & quality of the solutions as well as supply chain efficiencies for spare parts when parts break down.

Most importantly, they are laser focused on learning, understanding and changing the behaviours of both kids and adults to create lifelong habits, helping them to lead healthier lives.

Theory of Change, 2018-2023


In 2016, Thankyou began our partnership with Splash in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is home to 109 million people, making it the second most populous country in Africa. It’s a place full of amazing food (injera!), people, and of course, coffee!

The focus of our grants over the last few years is to help Splash reach an estimated 450,000 children that attend government schools which do not have adequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene. In 2016, Splash conducted a baseline survey to assess the quality of WASH services within schools in Addis. Some of the findings included:

  • Only 6% of the schools have water consistently available throughout the 5 school days each week.
  • Two in every five (42%) students refused to ever use the school toilet/latrine and waited until they get home. Poor latrine cleanliness was the main reason for not using the school toilet/latrine (64.2%). See below image of the latrines (before the upgraded Splash solutions)

Poor latrine cleanliness

When I visited in 2018, I remember hearing stories told via teachers of when students who just ‘went’ in classrooms because they couldn’t hold it in any longer. When asked “why”, students would say that they were afraid of the toilets, either because of the general dirtiness (the smell, the lack of privacy (doors were destroyed), or the lack of lighting (some of the toilets were pitch black). It’s pretty obvious that this is not only extremely disruptive to the student’s education, but detrimental to their sense of security, agency, and dignity. Having access to basic human rights like water and toilets give children the best opportunity to learn, and excel in their studies.

The exciting news is that since 2016, Thankyou has been funding programs that will reach 16,758 students and teachers across 16 schools. And that’s thanks to people like you choosing Thankyou.

I realised that as I was writing this that I’ve included a lot of numbers and statistics, which can be helpful to paint a picture if you’re into data like me, but nothing beats actually meeting some of our incredible partners to see the real-life outcomes of these projects. I am super excited to share a video from the Splash Ethiopia Team courtesy of their country director Dawit, which explains some of the programs and solutions we have funded below – give it a watch and leave a comment on our YouTube or IGTV what you think!

I hope that this gives you a glimpse into how we think about impact at Thankyou. We care deeply about the lives of the people we serve, so we want to truly understand what impact we are contributing towards. Together, we are about funding sustainable solutions that last.

[1] UN World Population Prospects, 2019

Words by Pete Yao