WaterAid statement on Earth Day Climate Summit

22 April 2021

Kelly Parsons, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid America:

WaterAid welcomes the Earth Day Climate Summit, hosted by the United States and led by the Biden Administration. This summit offers the opportunity for revitalized US leadership in responding to and solving the climate crisis, and it acts as a call to the world’s richest countries to take action. 

We applaud the inclusion of government leadership from countries on the front line of climate change, which threatens to reverse decades of progress in improving the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

While reaching net zero will be a huge achievement, the world’s poorest people can’t wait for future mitigation; climate change is devastating their lives now and they need immediate action. The countries who created the climate crisis must take action not only to address global emissions, but also to ensure the world’s poorest countries are not left to face this crisis alone.

WaterAid’s Turn the Tide report shows how climate change increases both droughts and floods, creating acute crises and undermining water supply and safe water access.  If communities are to survive and thrive in a changing climate, water, hygiene, and sanitation must be at the top of climate response and adaptation plans.

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 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 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 around 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

[5] www.wateraid.org