Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2019 Appeal

The BMJ Christmas 2019 appeal: help WaterAid turn on the taps worldwide

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 28 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6703
  1. Richard Hurley, features and debates editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. rhurley{at}

WaterAid brings safe drinking water and toilets to millions of people worldwide, which is why The BMJ is supporting the charity this year. Please give generously

WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala

Seven year old Toky and his friends wash their hands at Manantenasoa primary school in a remote village in Madagascar.

In schools like his, health centres, and communities in 28 poor countries, the charity WaterAid implements sustainable schemes that provide water for toilets and handwashing and trains local people to manage them. WaterAid also works with governments and campaigns worldwide for investment in these basic services.

In Madagascar nine in 10 people lack access to a decent toilet. Before WaterAid’s intervention, Toky’s school, in the Fihaonana region, had no safe drinking water, and pupils had to defecate in the open. At the health centre in nearby Antsipary village the midwife used to have to use dirty water to help deliver babies.

A 10th of the world’s population, 785 million people, lack access to nearby clean water, and one in four, two billion people, have no decent toilet.1 A quarter of the world’s health centres have no clean water, and a fifth lack decent sanitation.2 Every minute a newborn baby dies from infection in an unclean environment lacking safe water, the charity says.34

Clean water, good sanitation, and hygiene are essential to prevent and control outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera. Preventing infectious disease can reduce the need for antibiotics, potentially minimising antimicrobial resistance. With easy access to water and toilets, women and girls are at less risk of violence.

In 2018-19 WaterAid reached 1 357 000 people with clean water and 1 356 000 people with toilets, and supported 827 schools and 149 healthcare facilities.

Donations from BMJ readers would support WaterAid in helping more people to live healthier lives. The charitable Alchemy Foundation will double every donation from BMJ readers up to £25 000 (€30 000; $32 000). For a more significant gift, please email philanthropy{at}

WaterAid needs your support: please give generously

  • £60 is enough to buy a clean water tank for a school in a country such as Burkina Faso

  • £144 is enough to install handwashing stations in one school in a country such as Malawi

  • £288 is enough to build two toilets in a country such as Ghana

Donate online:

Donate by phone: +44 (0) 300 123 4341


  • Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

  • Competing interests: I have read and understood the BMJ policy on declaration of interests and have no relevant interests to declare.


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