The Importance of Clean Water

Water, just like shelter, is a human right. Whoever you are, wherever you are – you are entitled to clean, safe water.  

But today, billions of people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water.

When disasters devastate whole communities and force families far from home, it can be hard to ensure access to clean water.

Families often find themselves in inhospitable areas or overcrowded camps where finding safe water is a daily struggle.

By providing families with water containers and water filters, we can make safe drinking water one less thing to worry about.

Providing Safe Water: Our Aid

ShelterBox distributes water filters and purification equipment to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew in 2017


When families are unable to access clean water, water filters enables them to produce safe drinking water. 

These can remove viruses, bacteria and pathogens that can be found within contaminated water, as well as chemicals, heavy metals and fecal matter.

A water filter can turn up to 1000 liters of unsafe water into clean drinking water – that’s enough for a family of four for a month.

We make sure that the families we support know how to get the best from the water filters, by providing extensive training to whole communities.

ShelterBox NZ provides water filters to help families access clean water after disaster


Through working with disaster-affected families, we know that it’s important to always provide water carriers along with water filters. 

This makes sure families have a place to store the purified water, so it can be kept clean and safe to drink.

In the Philippines, our collapsible 10-liter capacity water carriers were particularly welcomed by women, who told us they were light and easy to carry.

Sometimes, families even use the collapsed carriers as bowls to eat from or to store food.

Water and Climate Change

2.2 billion people are currently living without access to safe water. The water crisis is real, and it’s also inextricably linked to climate change.

Climate change is causing more extreme droughts in some regions around the world.

One of the most devastating effects of droughts is the strain they can put on food supplies. In countries where communities don’t have reliable sources of nutritious food, droughts can cause food prices to go up, leading to social unrest, famine and migration.

We work with farming and nomadic communities in places like Somaliland.

Families there can no longer grow crops or feed their cattle and sheep because of the severe drought brought on by many years of poor rainy seasons.

ShelterBox distributes essential aid to families affected by severe drought in Somaliland.

We also see how climate change and the water crisis have reduced the availability of natural resources, leaving communities far more vulnerable to extremist groups.

This can contribute to complex conflict situations, like in the Lake Chad Basin which originally reached across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

We work with communities in the Lake Chad Basin and Somaliland to provide them with essential aid items such as water filters and water carriers, to enable them to produce safe drinking water.

We also provide other aid items to enable them to regain their livelihoods.

Read more about climate change


ShelterBox NZ provides water filters and carriers in Cameroon

After fleeing Boko Haram attacks on her village in Konduga, Nigeria, Maïramu now lives in Minawao Camp with her seven children.

In 2019, we provided her family with a water filter, alongside other aid items.
Having endured stomach aches and sickness due to dirty, contaminated water, this filter represented hope and joy.
This filter has become our doctor. It puts an end to the problem of sickness that we had after drinking water. Today, we drink water without fear… The only thing we can say is thank you very much”


ShelterBox distributes water filters and purification equipment to help families access clean and safe drinking water

Tshamaya lives in Minawao refugee camp, Cameroon.

In 2012, his whole family were forced to flee their home in Nigeria in search of a safer place to call home. Five years on, Minawao refugee camp has become their hometown.

Their lives would have been much easier if they hadn’t all become ill. On their arrival at the camp, the family started suffering from stomach aches, caused by drinking unsafe water. But they didn’t have a choice – it was a matter of drinking dirty water or no water at all.

Using the water filter he received, Tshamaya was able to produce safe drinking water for his family. Tshamaya says:

Since we started using the filter that we received, nobody complained again of stomach ache.

Read more


Why do communities struggle to access clean water after a disaster?

Whether it’s a cyclone, flooding or conflict, disasters can cause huge amounts of destruction and damage – and clean water is often compromised. Hand pumps break and local water sources get filled with debris, dirt or even chemicals.

How can disaster-affected families produce safe drinking water?

There are three main methods to do this: disinfection, sedimentation and filtration.

Disinfection uses chemicals, boiling or sunlight to rid water of bacteria. Sedimentation allows dirt to fall to the bottom of a water container over time. Filtrationphysically removes dirt by passing water through a material such as ceramic or sand.

We provide water filters because they are the most reliable and safest way to produce clean water.

Do all ShelterBox responses involve water filters and carriers?

No, they don’t. Every response is different, so the decision to distribute these is based on the needs of the affected families.

How long do water filters and carriers last?

If kept in their original packaging between 10°C and 30°C, a water carrier can last up to ten years. A water filter reaches the end of its lifespan after treating 1000 litres of water.