Maureen O’Neil appointed Chair of the Board of WaterAid international

29 July 2020
Image: Michelle Valberg

WaterAid is delighted to welcome Maureen O’Neil to the WaterAid international Board.

Maureen has worked in the international development and healthcare fields for more than thirty years and so brings a wealth of leadership and governance experience, most recently as President of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. Her previous posts include President of the International Development Research Centre, President of the Ottawa-based North-South Institute, and Interim President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. 

Appointed after an external recruitment process, Maureen will take up the chair position on 1st August 2020 from current incumbent Rob Skinner, who steps down after four years as chair, but will remain on the WaterAid international Board for a further year, as he continues to chair the Board of WaterAid Australia. 

WaterAid international was formed in 2010 to support the members of the WaterAid family in working effectively together. Current members are the UK, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Sweden, and the US. Its responsibilities include overseeing global strategy and governance. 

Maureen also has chaired several not-for-profit organisations and was former Chair of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development, and the International Advisory Group. She has also represented Canada on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. 

In 2011 her contributions to international development, gender equality and human rights were recognised when she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for public service.

Maureen O’Neil said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining WaterAid international as Chair and look forward to working with all the members of the WaterAid family, the highly experienced board and secretariat.   

I’ve admired WaterAid’s efforts to bring clean water and decent toilets to millions of people for a long time, and I’m excited to continue this fantastic work to reach everyone, everywhere.

“With three billion people still having nowhere to wash their hands with soap and water at home as the world tries to prevent the spread of Covid-19, now more than ever, getting water, sanitation and hygiene to vulnerable communities is urgently needed.” 

Rob Skinner, outgoing Chair WaterAid international said:

“It’s been an honour to serve as Chair of WaterAid international. Since my appointment as chair in 2016, I’ve been privileged to oversee the organisations’ work on a global scale.  

“I’m extremely proud of WaterAid’s life-saving work, delivering clean water, decent sanitation, and good hygiene to millions of people around the world.   

“With Maureen’s wonderful leadership, I have no doubt WaterAid will go from strength to strength, ensuring we continue to play a critical role in responding effectively to the water, sanitation and hygiene issues faced by vulnerable communities.”  

Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, Interim Executive Director, WaterAid international said:

“I’m delighted to welcome Maureen to the WaterAid family. Her wealth of experience in leading international development organisations and her dedication to improving the lives of vulnerable people will be invaluable in our work to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to clean water, a decent toilet and good hygiene.

“I’m deeply grateful to Rob for his superb leadership, dedication, and passion over the years.”

For more information, please contact:

Ekene Oboko, Senior Media Officer, [email protected].
Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552, or email [email protected]g


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage