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Cambridge Global Challenges


While water and sanitation do not appear to drive migration, the process of migration can radically shape access to water and sanitation services – particularly for undocumented migrants and people in transit. We question whether attaining 'universal access' is possible without specific measures to address the needs of refugees and other migrants.

Key messages

  • Migration is not driven by a lack of water and sanitation services, but providing services can support successful migration.
  • The barriers faced by migrants make achieving the SDGs' ambitions of universal access more challenging.
  • Challenges stem from failures in governance, not the amount of water available, numbers of migrants or rates of migration.
  • The poor visibility of migrants in data limits understanding of their needs and reduces the accountability of governments and service providers.


To access downloads and video infographic for the briefing please visit the ODI website.



Cambridge Global Challenges is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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