White House turned into a slum to highlight global sanitation crisis

April 23, 2010

By WaterAid America

White House in center of slum – WaterAid photo

White house in a slum

Montage created by Saddington & Baynes for WaterAid and End Water Poverty

Washington, DC – One of the world’s most recognizable buildings has been given a shocking makeover by international charity WaterAid and global campaign group End Water Poverty.

While this scene might seem horrific, for millions across Africa and the developing world this is their life

Professor Edward Kairu

Gone are the immaculate White House lawns, in their place a squalid otherworldly scene where children collect water from a filthy garbage-strewn water hole and long lines form at the standpoint.

Except that this isn’t another world. Having to use a contaminated and potentially fatal water source is a daily reality for 884 million people. Then there are the 2.6 billion who have no access to a toilet.

“While this scene might seem horrific, for millions across Africa and the developing world this is their life,” said Professor Edward Kairu, Chair of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation. “They do not have the luxury of even one toilet or clean water running from a tap. This lack of these basic necessities has a huge impact on the health, education and economic prosperity of millions of the world’s poorest people.”

The makeover took place to mark the first ever High Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water which takes place in Washington today. At this meeting Ministers and policy makers from 30 developed and developing countries have the opportunity to commit to financial and political action to tackle this forgotten crisis.

According to Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive: “We have an historic meeting that can deliver real results if the right decisions get made. Decisions that could stop millions of children dying from diarrhea, free up hospital beds, give girls in particular the chance to get an education and mothers the opportunity to earn a living instead of having to walk hours to fetch water.”

“There is no doubt that if ministers and leaders had to endure these conditions in their own backyard they would take immediate action. Today they have the opportunity to do so and help bring an end to this scandalous crisis.”