WaterAid backs Liberian President's $60 million water and sanitation in schools appeal

3 Mar 2015

For immediate release -- 3 March 2015

WaterAid gave its support today to a $60 million (£39m) fundraising appeal launched by the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to protect schoolchildren from Ebola and other contagious diseases.

This month, Liberian children are returning to schools which still lack access to clean, safe water and functional toilets – unsanitary conditions which allow disease to spread.

More than half of Liberian schools (55%) do not have a supply of clean, safe water. Four out of ten (43%) do not have functional latrines, and four out of five (82%) lack hand-washing facilities. [1]

$60.5 million will be needed over the next two years to provide safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and hygiene education to the 2,500 schools in Liberia currently without access to these basic services.

WaterAid is part of a coalition of NGOs who will be working closely with the Liberian Government to put water-points and handwashing facilities in 1,800 schools and latrines in a further 1,300.  Hygiene education will also be provided to every student in the country.

The appeal for water, sanitation and hygiene promotion in schools comes as nations and international organisations gather to pledge their support to the rebuilding of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as the outbreak of Ebola begins to slow. The virus is thought to have infected more than 23,800 people and killed more than 9,600, the overwhelming majority of them in West Africa.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive Officer at WaterAid said:

“This tragedy has revealed the critical importance of access to clean water and good sanitation -- in health clinics as well as schools. Without reliable water and sanitation facilities, schools become fertile ground for diseases, and children cannot practise the good hygiene which will keep them healthy and safe.

"We are urging governments and partner organisations to help us to ensure that every school in Liberia has access to clean, safe water, toilets and handwashing facilities so that children may return to school and realise their potential. Aid to rebuild health and education systems now is the most effective way to contain any outbreaks in future, and will cost far less in the long run.”

The Ebola epidemic has highlighted the critical role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing the spread of diseases.  Plentiful supplies of water and vigilant hygiene, including hand-washing with soap and disinfectants, have been essential in efforts to contain the crisis.

WaterAid has been active in the fight against Ebola in working with the Ministry of Health to provide water and sanitation to Ebola treatment centres, handing out hygiene promotion kits, including chlorine and soap, and promoting the uptake of Ebola prevention measures in 40 communities in Margibi – one of the areas hardest hit by the epidemic.

Better access to clean water and safe toilets in schools will improve children’s health and their educational development, helping them to remain in school and improving their ability to learn.  And it is great value for money, producing $4 worth of benefits for every $1 spent.

A child every minute dies from diarrhoeal disease linked to a lack of clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene– almost 6000 a day.   Some 58 million primary-school-aged children around the world are not enrolled in school; poor access to safe water and a lack of basic toilets contributes to this number.


Notes to Editors

  • WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.  The international development organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.  Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation.  For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at
  • Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
  • 748 million people are without safe water, or one in 10 in the world.
  • 2.5 billion people are without adequate sanitation, or 39% of the world's population.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:
* Carolynne Wheeler, media officer, on
[email protected] or +44 (0) 207 793 4485
* Fiona Callister, media relations lead, on [email protected] or +44 (0) 207 793 5022
* Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0) 7887 521 552 or email on [email protected] 


[1] [1] ‘Wash in Schools: The First Step to Recovery’; (2015) Liberian Wash Coalition