WaterAid says farewell to WASH champion Kofi Annan

13 September 2018
Kofi Annan at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2007, June 13-15, Cape Town.
Image: World Economic Forum

WaterAid joins the people of Ghana, Africa and the entire world in extending deepest condolences to the family and friends of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will be laid to rest this week following a funeral in Ghana.

WaterAid’s regional director for West Africa, Mariame Dem, said:

"Kofi Annan was a visionary and a champion for the rights of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people, particularly in the area of water, sanitation and health. As we mourn his passing we see the legacy he has left, and the work we must continue. As he himself said: ‘We shall not defeat any of the infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care.’ WaterAid’s firm resolution is to carry on this work until everyone, everywhere has access to the life essentials of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, critical for good health, education and a prosperous future.”

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, Nobel laureate Kofi Annan was the first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of UN Secretary-General. There he prioritised aid and development, turning his call to action on HIV/AIDS into the first global fund to fight the disease; and issued the UN Millennium Declaration that led to what was then the most ambitious effort in history to defeat poverty, the Millennium Development Goals, among them to halve the proportion of people in the world without access to water and decent toilets.

He called on the world to free women and girls from their daily burden of hauling water over great distances, and established the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation to help mobilise funds for water and sanitation projects.

As a result of many of these actions, the proportion of people in the world without access to clean water has decreased from 18% in 2000 to 11% today; progress in child mortality means that 50 million children who would have not seen their fifth birthday if they had been born before 2000 have survived.


For more information, please contact:

In London: Carolynne Wheeler, News Manager,

[email protected]

+44 (0)207 793 4485

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Notes to Editors:


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 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @wateraid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 289,000 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]

To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org

[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


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

[5] www.wateraid.org