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How much would you pay for clean water?

Getting hold of clean water can be a costly business in countries where there’s no official water supply. But the cost of going without is even higher.

22 Mar 2016

Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. It’s also the most expensive place to buy water.

This World Water Day, our new report Water: At What Cost? reveals the true cost of water around the world – and nothing could be starker than the difference between what we spend here in the UK and in Papua New Guinea.

50 litres of water (that’s just enough to drink, cook and wash with – most of us use a lot more) will cost a UK resident about 7p.

In Papua New Guinea, the same amount costs £1.84. That’s 54% of a typical poor person’s weekly salary. 

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‘A very stressful time to be a mother’

Sandra Gaudi is a snack stall holder and mother of four. She lives in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and buys water from a communal tap near her home for K10 (£2.31) a week. 

“K10 is difficult to afford once we’ve paid for food and other things,” she tells us. “Often we buy water on credit until my husband gets paid.”

For the same amount Sandra spends on water every year, she could buy any of the following:

  • 5 school uniforms
  • 104kg of rice
  • 520 bus rides to town to buy more stock for her stall.

As well as expensive, Sandra's water source is unreliable. “[It] can shut down anytime so you have to make it a priority. You make sure you have it before you do anything else,” she says.

Sandra in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Sandra Gaudi standing outside her home in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

When there was a drought recently, there was even less water to go around. Without enough water to cook with, Sandra’s family would skip meals or eat packaged snacks instead.

"When things were really bad we’d just wipe our faces instead of having a shower. It was a very stressful time to be a mother,” she says.

The crisis is urgent – but you can change things

Clean water should be accessible and affordable, wherever you live. Last September, world leaders agreed when they committed to the Global Goal of universal access to safe water by 2030.

But this crisis is urgent. Make sure our politicians don’t forget their promise. Ask them to lead the way in getting taps and toilets to everyone everywhere. 

Sign the petition now >