800 abandoned buckets placed alongside River Thames in moving tribute to daily child deaths

5 December 2017
Thumbnail WaterAid/Ollie Dixon WaterAid created a sea of buckets by the Thames symbolising the 800 children on average dying daily from diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation

800 abandoned buckets represent the average number of children that die every day due to lack of clean water and decent toilets.

The shocking tribute was created by WaterAid as part of its Untapped appeal, supported by GBBO winner Nadiya Hussain and singer Rachel Stevens Brits invited to ‘buy a bucket’ and save a child’s life by texting to donate just £2 a month this Christmas, less than the average spend on Brussels sprouts (£6.30), baubles (£16) and wrapping paper (£10). All donations to be match funded by UK government until the 31 January Images to download > 

A memorial with 800 buckets appeared alongside the River Thames today, as a stark reminder of the 800* children’s lives needlessly lost each day due to dirty water and poor sanitation.[1]

The installation was created by WaterAid as part of its Untapped appeal, raising awareness of the plight of one in nine children who don’t have clean water and one in three without a decent toilet.

The colourful tribute covered Potters Fields Park in Southwark and was a startling sight, stopping commuters in their tracks. Each empty bucket could hold almost enough safe drinking water required for one child for a week.

Celebrities such as Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and singer Rachel Stevens join WaterAid in asking the British public to give the gift of water this Christmas by donating just £2 a month.

£24 is all it takes to provide clean water for a child for life, and for every text to donate received, a bucket will be removed symbolising a child’s life saved.

Bodie, 6, sits among the 800 buckets WaterAid/Ollie Dixon
Bodie, 6, sits among the 800 buckets by the Thames

New research commissioned by WaterAid has revealed that the public can make a real difference for less than the average cost of one high street coffee (£2.42), Brussels sprouts for the Christmas dinner table (£6.30) and even festive wrapping paper (£10).

Although the average person will spend £95 on Christmas gifts for each of their loved ones this year, with over a quarter (27%) spending £150 or more, half (55%) of us get into the Christmas spirit and donate to charity during the festive season.

The survey of 2,000 Brits also looked at the value placed on basic resources during the Christmas period, with 70% admitting clean water is the thing they’d struggle to live without most.

A decent toilet (62%) came a close second – more than a television 58%, an oven to cook their turkey in (43%), the internet (31%), a car (20%) and a mobile phone (19%).

Marcus Missen, Director of Fundraising and Communications at WaterAid, said: “Every day, millions of children miss out on school and have no time to play with friends because they have to collect water for their families. Often, the water is so dirty it can kill them. On average a child dies every two minutes due to poor water and sanitation, and diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under the age of five. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and a small donation could help make all the difference. Adding a gift of just £2 a month to your Christmas lists this year can help transform a child’s life with access to clean water.”

Nadiya Hussain said: “Every parent wants the best for their children, and to see them grow up healthy and able to reach their full potential. It’s devastating to know that one in nine children across the world are being held back because they have no clean water to drink, leading to sickness and lost school days that can have a lasting impact on their lives. Through my trips to Bangladesh, I’ve seen how difficult life without clean water is, and know the difference such a simple thing can make. And it’s so easy for us to help. WaterAid’s Untapped campaign is a great example of how we can help transform lives by getting clean water and decent toilets to children across the world.”

Rachel Stevens added: “Through my work with WaterAid, I’ve seen first-hand the impact having no clean water or toilets has on families, especially children. Having clean water near to home helps keep children healthy and in school, an education improves their future prospects and gives them the chances all children deserve. It costs surprisingly little to make a difference – just £24 can get clean water to one child for life; and with the UK Government’s support for the Untapped campaign, all donations to WaterAid will go even further this winter.”

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “In remote rural regions of Mozambique and Sierra Leone, less than half of the population have access to safe water. By matching donations to WaterAid’s Untapped appeal, UK aid will help ensure that thousands of people in these regions gain access to clean, safe water and the sanitation and good hygiene we so easily take for granted.”

The installation will sit on Potters Fields, London, on Tuesday 5th December until 8.00pm. Members of the public can ‘buy a bucket’ to give the gift of water and save a child’s life this Christmas.

To buy a bucket, members of the public can text BUCKET to 70372 to donate £2 a month – all donations received before the 31 January 2018 will be matched by the UK Government. If a direct debit is set up, donations will be matched by the UK Government for three months. Additional donations can be made via the WaterAid website www.wateraid.org.


For more information please contact [email protected] or call 020 7440 9826


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 @WaterAidUK 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 £24 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


By texting BUCKET to 70372 you agree to us contacting you by phone & SMS to tell you about our work and what you can do to help. Text BUCKET NO to 70372 to give £2 per month and no further contact by phone & SMS. You will still receive monthly payment admin texts.

This is a charity subscription service for WaterAid. You will be charged £2 per month plus one message at your standard network rate. WaterAid will receive 100%. To unsubscribe text STOP to 70372 or call 0203 282 7862.

[1] washwatch.org *On average, 800 children die each day due to lack of access to dirty water and poor sanitation

[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] washwatch.org

[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