G7 urged to invest USD 77 cents a head to prepare world’s weakest health centres for next pandemic and save millions of lives

27 June 2022
WaterAid/James Kiyimba

As the G7 meets in Germany, WaterAid is calling on leaders of the seven richest nations to invest less than US $1 a head to deliver clean water to health facilities in the poorest countries as a defence against the next pandemic and to save millions of lives.  

If every G7 country were to invest USD 77 cents per capita of their population, the total sum could transform lives and prevent children dying from preventable diseases in some of the poorest parts of the world due to poor hygiene, the aid agency has calculated. 

It would also help curb the deadly spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – which already claims more lives annually than HIV or malaria – and which WaterAid warns could be the world’s next global pandemic. 

Over half of all healthcare centres in the world’s least developed countries do not have clean water or decent toilets. This leads to a rise in avoidable infections, and healthcare facilities are forced to prescribe antibiotics preventatively, increasing the chance of drug-resistance.  

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid UK, said:

“The silent, deadly AMR pandemic threatens to engulf the world in the same way Covid did if we don’t get a grip on it now.  

“Developing the next generation of antibiotics is all well and good but if the G7 won’t invest the price of a chocolate bar per capita of their population to get clean water into health centres in the poorest parts of the world, all other efforts to curb the next pandemic will be futile.  

“Giving doctors and nurses clean water to wash their hands to prevent infections in clinics in the poorest nations would be a cheap, no regrets investment to keep the whole world safer. 

“We urge Boris Johnson and his G7 counterparts to act now in order to stop the needless loss of life due to a lack of clean water and decent toilets.”  

WaterAid has calculated that, factoring in developing country investment and efforts, providing clean water and toilets in every health facility in the 46 least developed countries in the world by 2030 would cost richer countries US $600 million a year – less than one dollar per person for everyone living in the G7 countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.  


For more information or interviews, please contact:

Anna Ford, News Manager, [email protected] 

Rik Goverde, [email protected]

or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552, or email [email protected]  

Notes to editors: 

Research published April 2022 in the Lancet found that between US $6.5 billion to US $9.6 billion is needed from 2021 to 2030 to achieve water and sanitation provision in every public health facility in the world’s poorest countries. WaterAid's analysis assesses how much of these costs can realistically be met from the least developed countries’ domestic resources. The financing gap identified once this is taken into account is around US $600 million a year. 

The USD 77 cents is from the following calculation: 

Figures behind the calculation

US $600million divided by 777 million is USD 77 cents per person 

Source: https://databank.worldbank.org/source/population-estimates-and projections 

The Lancet: Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis 

WaterAid: Investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is critical in fight against silent killer of millions 

More detail on the figures available on request.


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 www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAid 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 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

[5] www.wateraid.org