WaterAid calls on nations to help finance safe water, toilets in Addis negotiations

10 Jul 2015

As world leaders travel to Addis Ababa for the UN International Financing for Development Conference, WaterAid has called upon them to prioritise programmes for water, sanitation and good hygiene, so that no one is left behind.

The Addis conference will determine how countries around the world finance ambitious new goals to eradicate extreme poverty and create a more sustainable world. The new UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be finalised in New York this September.

Access to water and sanitation will play a key role in these new goals. Some 650 million people around the world are still without access to clean water and 2.3 billion remain without a basic toilet, creating a health crisis which kills 500,000 children under five each year.

A new WaterAid report, Essential Element, has identified 45 high-priority countries which have been left behind in financing for water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. These countries – many of them post-conflict and fragile states – will not reach everyone with water and sanitation without targeted overseas aid, alongside strong political leadership at home that makes reaching everyone a priority.

In the UK, a new survey has shown that the British public believes overseas aid to help poor people access clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices should rank alongside health as one of the UK’s top aid priorities, even though such programmes at present receive comparatively little.

The survey, commissioned by WaterAid and conducted by ComRes, was conducted online 14-15 May 2015; the pollsters surveyed more than 2,000 British adults for their thoughts on overseas aid.

WaterAid Director of Global Policy and Campaigns, Margaret Batty, said:

“The UK survey shows what WaterAid has long known – that access to safe water, sanitary toilets and good hygiene should be a top priority in overseas aid.

“Safe water and basic toilets create healthier communities, and spare women and girls their long and difficult journeys to fetch water and the indignity and insecurity of having to find a private place to relieve themselves when there is no toilet. Children are more likely to attend school and families are more able to support themselves when they are not constantly ill from diarrhoeal disease. This is a health crisis which kills half a million children under five each year.

“As government representatives from around the world travel to Addis Ababa, they have a once-in-a-generation chance to tackle extreme poverty and help more children grow up to reach their full potential. We call upon them to prioritise access to water, sanitation and hygiene to ensure no one is left behind.”

In each of the 45 high-priority countries identified by WaterAid, half or more of the population do not have a basic, safe place to relieve themselves.

This pollutes their water supply and general environment and as a result their citizens are at high risk of contracting waterborne diseases as well as pandemic illnesses that spread in the absence of good sanitation and hygiene practices, as seen in the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa.

At the UN Financing for Development conference, WaterAid is calling for the Addis Accord to:

  • Commit to respecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights, including those to education, health and water and sanitation.
  • Achieve universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030 we are calling for substantial increases in domestic and international resources for sustainable development.
  • Include a strong focus on equity and sustainability of services. This must incorporate action to address financial absorption and human resource constraints.
  • Ensure that no one is left behind. The accord must have a rights-based approach to sustainable development financing.


Notes to editors

  • WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international 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.
  • More than 650 million people are without safe water, or one in 10 in the world.
  • Nearly 2.4 billion people are without adequate sanitation, or one in three in the world.

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