Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

Current situation

UNICEF Mozambique work with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Mozambique
Significant progress has been made in access to improved sources of water and in sanitation, but from a very low starting point. (Sitan 2014)

Although access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is at the heart of sustainable economic and social development of a nation, Mozambique is off-track to reach the Millennium Development Goal targets for access to safe water and basic sanitation.

Since 1990, total sanitation coverage has increased to 21%, but the disparity between urban and rural coverage remains great: 44% urban vs 11% rural. 40% of people still practice open defecation, down from 66% in 1990. The lack of improved sanitation costs Mozambique about 4 billion Meticais a year, due to premature deaths, medical costs and losses to productivity.

Safe water supply coverage is low at 49%, with a large disparity between urban coverage (80%) and rural coverage (35%). The challenge of upgrading WASH conditions in small towns is huge; they represent about 15% of Mozambique’s urban population, nearly 2 million people. Although these towns are strategic for development, safe water and sanitation services have lagged far behind investments in large cities or even in surrounding rural areas.

Health facilities and schools are critical institutions for the survival and development of children, but unfortunately they are characterized by inadequate levels of safe water supply and sanitation. Only an estimated 40% of rural schools have WASH facilities for learners and teachers. 

What we are doing


Supporting sector policies and capacities to address gaps in WASH services, equity, sustainability and disaster risk reduction.  


Investing in WASH in schools through provision of water supply, sanitation facilities for boys and girls, and handwashing stations for improved hygiene.


Investing in improved WASH services for small towns in Inhambane, Tete and Manica provinces in collaboration with AIAS (Administration for Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure).


The first National Sanitation Conference, held in May 2014 under the leadership of the Government of Mozambique, agreed to eliminate open defecation by 2025, and universal access to water and sanitation by 2030 including schools and health facilities.

Strengthening the decentralized capacity of government partners’ capacities to provide quality WASH services through the support for recruitment of new staff, training, and district planning.

Since 2012, 80,000 learners have gained access to water supply and sanitation. Water facilities were built in 225 primary schools, and sanitation facilities in 141 schools.  487 primary schools also reached an open defection free status.  256,000 people living in rural areas of Tete, Manica and Sofala have gained access to improved water supply. 292,000 people have also gained access to improved sanitation.

In 2014, in the Nampula Province, the Ribaué town water supply system capable of serving up to 27,000 people was inaugurated, and 15,730 town residents were provided with access to improved sanitation.