World leaders at COP27 owe water security to millions, but action is lacking - WaterAid

November 18, 2022
girl collecting water
WaterAid/ Etinosa Yvonne

Claire Seaward, WaterAid’s Global Director of Campaigns, in Sharm el-Sheikh, said:

“This is the first time that water has been on the official COP agenda, which is absolutely staggering given that millions of people across the globe struggle to find clean water because of the impacts of extreme weather.

“We had hoped for more concrete action on water security. The fact that it is simply being discussed in Egypt offers little consolation to women and girls across the globe. Girls in Madagascar have to walk for hours to collect water and are robbed of their childhoods, nurses in West Africa work in health centres without water and women in Pakistan battle infections in the aftermath of the devastating floods, as they don't have access to clean water or health care.

“World leaders owe it to them and generations to come to get a grip on the climate catastrophe, stump up the money for adaptation and unite governments and the private sector to change the course of history by providing water to millions.

"Water security is not just vital for communities to survive, but also for national and international security as it curbs disease outbreaks and drives thriving populations. We have yet to see that fully understood at COP27." 


Notes to Editors

For more information or spokespeople in Sharm el Sheikh, please contact:

Onome Oraka, [email protected]


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organization works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home [1].
  • Almost 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own [2].
  • Over 300,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes [3].
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs [4].

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organization.

[2] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organization.

[3] WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

[4] WaterAid. (2021) Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery.