Over a million call on UN to prioritise water and sanitation for all

More than a million people world-wide support the growing campaign to ensure water and sanitation for all

23 Sep 2013 | New York

Today, as global leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York, more than a million people called out for safe sanitation and drinking water for all.

A petition with more than one million signatories from around the globe, created by the End Water Poverty coalition - of which WaterAid is a member - was handed to world leaders.

WaterAid Chief Executive Barbara Frost said: "Diseases caused by dirty water, unsafe sanitation and poor hygiene remain the second biggest killer of children globally. To say that the response to date has been inadequate is a shocking understatement.

"Leaders gathering together today have a profound and historic opportunity to reshape the future of the world in which we live. We owe the billions denied life's most basic necessities the chance to forge a future where we all have clean water and sanitation. We must not let this hope trickle through our fingers."

UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, representing the UK at the UN General Assembly, commented on the petition:

"We must not avert our gaze from the crushing burden of extreme poverty, especially considering the disease and illness brought upon the billions living without safe sanitation. The UK Government is on-track to honour our commitment of providing 60 million people access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

"With a million people signing this petition, including more than 80,000 from the UK, it is clear that the public the world over are deeply concerned about creating a world where people live in human dignity and have clean water and sanitation."

The petition was presented on the day that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted a day-long High Level Forum on the Millennium Development Goals – the global poverty reduction targets set for the end of 2015.


  • More than one in ten (768 million) people lack access to drinking water
  • More than one in three (2.5 billion) people lack access to sanitation
  • Every year, over 700,000 children under the age of five die from diseases brought about because of a lack of access to these services
  • The poor availability of water and sanitation are conservatively estimated to cost developing countries $260 billion every year.

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