Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

The safe water challenge

Year level: 7-8

Students increase their knowledge and understandings about the availability of and access to safe, fresh water throughout the world. They identify the effect of human activity on freshwater systems and explain how this may lead to environmental challenges. They investigate and evaluate local and regional water initiatives and projects and how they can be involved and change their own behaviours.

Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam.

Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Coffey International Development

Identity and cultural diversity, Interdependence and globalisation, Sustainable futures

Australian Curriculum links

Learning areas


Year 7

The classification of environmental resources and the forms that water takes as a resource (ACHGK037)

The influence of social connectedness, community identity and perceptions of crime and safety on the liveability of places (ACHGK046)

The influence of accessibility to services and facilities on the liveability of places (ACHGK044)

The influence of social connectedness, community identity and perceptions of crime and safety on the liveability of places (ACHGK046)

Year 8

The causes and consequences of urbanisation, drawing on a study from Indonesia, or another country of the Asia region (ACHGK054)


Year 7

Water is an important resource that cycles through the environment (ACSSU222)

Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management (ACSHE121)

Year 8

Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135) 


Year 7

Identify and explore ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1619)

Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements to promote a point of view or enable a new way of seeing (ACELY1720)

Year 8

Interpret the stated and implied meanings in spoken texts, and use evidence to support or challenge different perspectives (ACELY1730)

Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)

General capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Critical and creative thinking

Cross-curriculum priorities

  • Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability 

Activity 1: Water – more precious than gold

Students identify their knowledge and understandings of the access to safe drinking water throughout the world and the consequences of not having safe water.

Predict in pairs:

  • the percentage of the world's total water which is available as fresh water
  • the percentage of the world's population that doesn't have access to safe drinking water
  • five countries/two regions where access to safe drinking water would be high
  • five countries/a region where access to safe drinking water would be low.

Check your answers using:

Share your predictions and your reasoning, and the actual statistics with the rest of the class.

Comment about the difference between the two.

Compare your answers with the information provided and, as a class, discuss the accuracy of your predictions.

Create a personal KLW chart (what you Know, what you Want to know, what you have Learned) about the availability of fresh water for people around the world.

the Water resources: long term annual average statistics to complete this table (other countries could be substituted as required).

 CountryRenewable water2010 available renewable water per capita2030 projected population ( available renewable water per capita (column 2 ÷ column 4)
Australia  22,824,000 
Bangladesh  191,097,000 
Cambodia  16,379,000 
India  1,432,181,000 
Laos  10,912,000 
Papua New Guinea  7,582,000 
Tuvalu  1,000 (approx.) 
Vietnam  123,210,000 

Brainstorm the effect of changing renewable water availability on human activity.


  • How might reduced water availability affect food production? 
  • What might happen to shared water resources such as rivers that flow through a number of countries?
  • How will governments distribute water to meet competing needs? 
  • What changes will there be to the costs of water? 
  • Could other sources of water be used to create fresh water?

Find out about progress in the above countries toward achieving Millennium Development Goal 7, Target C: Halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation at Cyberschoolbus (Note; uses Flash) and by exploring the interactive Millennium Development Goals map.  

Write a statement summarising what you think is the biggest issue the world faces about water availability in the next 20 years.

Activity 2: Urbanisation and accessing safe water

Students investigate factors that affect access to safe water in an urban area of a developing country. They analyse the effectiveness of strategies to improve the availability of safe water and sanitation.

Add two new columns to the table from Activity 1.

Give column 6 the heading 'Urban population' and show the percentage of the population that is urban for each country using a source such as World Fact Book.

Give column 7 the heading 'Access to safe water' and write the percentage of the urban population who have access to safe water.

Research and discuss issues of water access that would be specific to people living in cities in each country. You might use headings such as Health, Cost, Pollution etc. 

Read Global Education case study: Urban sanitation in India.

Answer the following questions:

  • What factors affect whether people in Bangalore have access to water?
  • What effect does limited water and sanitation services have on people's lives, health and income?
  • How have water and sanitation services been improved in Cement Huts?

Create a graphical representation with labelled photographs depicting the situation in Cement Huts prior to the implementation of the project, the actions taken to resolve the safe water issue, and the final outcomes.

Discuss the role that local, national and international governments played to provide adequate water and sanitation in slum areas.

Think about the costs of not providing safe water and sanitation and the benefits of providing it.

Comment briefly in the table below. 


Review the comments and make a statement about the balance of costs and benefits for governments and for people living in slums.

Activity 3: Sharing a river

Students investigate how sharing the Mekong River among a number of countries affects the resolution of water issues. They explore strategies used in Vietnam to provide clean water and sanitation facilities.

Read about the Mekong River and the Mekong River Commission.

Name the six South-East Asian countries through which the Mekong River flows.

List some activities that the Mekong River is used for in these countries. 

Describe some of the water management issues in each of the countries along the river. 

Discuss the problems that might arise when there are competing needs for water. Suggest ways to resolve these issues.

Read Global Education case study: Mekong Delta water and sanitation.

Complete the table describing the strategies used to improve access to safe drinking water and increased sanitation in the Mekong Delta.


Research how the chosen aspect is addressed in your community. (You might use water company websites and access to safe water and sanitation statistics in the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report.) 

Create a Venn diagram to show the similarities and differences between water and sanitation supplies in your community and people living in the Mekong Delta. 

Discuss: How can you explain the different access to water between your community and the Mekong Delta, and its effects?

Create a conversation, cartoon or report comparing how people can be involved in making a safe and adequate water supply, and sanitation, in the Mekong Delta and in your community.

Activity 4: Increasing water availability and access

Students investigate and evaluate a number of different methods of increasing water availability and access.

Form research groups to gather three positive and three negative issues about the following methods of increasing water availability: collection of household rainwater, dams, recycling, desalination, icebergs and groundwater.

Contrast the situation in Australia with another country (eg one investigated in earlier activities).

Evaluate the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the method in Australia and the focus country. You might use the Development Compass Rose template to create research questions. 

The following digital curriculum resources and websites have been suggested to assist.

Collection of household rainwater






Present details of your findings to the other groups using multimedia. Include a conclusion about whether the method of obtaining water is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Debate the best way to allocate $1 million for a project to improve water access for all.

Activity 5: Lending a hand to improve water access

Students explore and understand the power of community working together to provide access to safe water.

Read about a project to improve access to water undertaken by one of the following organisations: 

Create a presentation discussing the organisation's:

  • purpose and achievements
  • partnerships and methods of operation.

Present your findings to the rest of the group.

Conduct a group ranking of the strategies, taking into account the effect on the environment, the financial cost and the social, religious and economic impact on people living in the area.

Consider an action you could take as an individual. This might be learning more about the issues, changing your own behaviour or joining a group to improve water accessibility. 

Going further

Water for life
Water and the world

Contributors' notes

Alex boss said:

26 August 2014

Water is needed all over the world we waste water like it is nothing we should be more appreciative of the gift of water

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Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam.
Photo courtesy of Coffey International Development
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Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Coffey International Development