Aussie mothers have access to 100x more water than mothers in Gaza

ByCARE Australia May 8, 2024 0 comments

Mothers in Australia have access to approximately 100x more water than mothers in Gaza, with the former using around 186 litres[1] of water a day, compared to 1.5 to 2 litres[2] per day in the Gaza strip.

Ahead of Mother’s Day this Sunday, 12th May, CARE Australia has commissioned research to shed a light on how vital access to clean water is for new mothers (those with one or more children up to age 2). In fact, 9 in 10 mothers strongly agreed that having access to clean water was essential in the first few months of their baby’s life, and the same figure strongly agreed it was important to maintain good hygiene.

Yet currently, more than a quarter of the world’s population lack access to safe and reliable water for daily use.[3] For mothers, whose need is arguably greatest, lack of access can be extremely dangerous. WaterAid states that without access to water, toilets and soap, health centres, which are supposed to keep mothers and their babies well, instead become breeding grounds for the spread of infectious diseases. According to UN Water, globally, one million mothers and newborn babies die from infections soon after birth each year.[4]

Clean water is not only important for maintaining sterile spaces, it is also extremely important for feeding young babies. Nearly all mothers (93%) who were surveyed strongly agreed clean water was important for sterilising, and almost all (96%) breastfeeding mothers surveyed said they needed to drink more water when compared to before having a baby.

However during the first few months of their child’s life, preparing formula was the top reason mothers said they needed access to clean water (47%). This was followed by sterilising equipment (28%), bathing their child (21%) and doing a load of laundry (4%).

Sadly, in many countries, a lack of safe drinking water can be extremely dangerous for mothers. Women who lack safe water are more prone to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) related illnesses, such as hookworm infestation, which, when occurring during pregnancy, is linked to low birth weight and slow child growth, and hepatitis. Emerging evidence suggests that giving birth in a setting without safe drinking water or sanitation has a negative impact on the health and survival of both mother and baby.

The survey also showed that all new mothers (100%) strongly agreed it was important to be able to shower and bathe, and have access to a toilet in the weeks following their baby’s birth. These sentiments will likely come as no surprise to mothers, reflecting on their own postnatal experiences of bleeding, and also to women more generally when considering menstruation.

These findings are stark against the current situation in Gaza, where basic sanitation has broken down, exacerbating the risks to the lives of those already most vulnerable. Most of the displaced have no access to safe water, while an average of 160 people share one toilet and 700 people one shower facility.

“Children and mothers are dying from diseases that are absolutely preventable and treatable,” says Hiba Tibi, CARE Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.

The lack of clean water and sanitation facilities in makeshift, overcrowded shelters, in addition to a lack of food, sleep, and water, create fertile ground for the rapid spreading of diseases.

CARE Australia supporter and Presenter Madeleine Morris says:

“Clean water is so essential for mothers and newborn babies.  It’s impossible to comprehend feeding, bathing and washing a newborn, as well as yourself on a fraction of the water we are fortunate to have access to every day in Australia.  I’m supporting CARE Australia’s Safe Water = Safe Lives appeal because every mother and every baby should have access to safe drinking water, no matter where they live.”

Despite the enormous challenges in delivering aid, CARE continues to respond directly to the crisis in Gaza. Since October, CARE has reached over 250,000 people, including providing WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) support to 172,176 people.

This week, CARE Australia launched an appeal to help provide more women and girls access to clean, safe water and sanitation. By supporting the appeal, your donation could help provide hygiene kits, water testing kits and clean potable water to women and communities in the aftermath of emergencies. It could also help lead to the installation of wells, water tanks and taps in communities that need them.

Please consider giving generously to the Safe Water = Safe Lives appeal today at


Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact Briony FitzGerald on 0404 117 927

About the research

CARE Australia commissioned research through YouGov, who surveyed a nationally representative sample of 517 Australian women aged 18 and above who have one or more children aged 0 to 2. The study was conducted online between 22 April and 28th April.


  • All (100%) mothers agree that having access to clean water in the first few months of their child’s life is essential, including more than nine in ten (92%) who strongly agree.
  • Virtually all (99%) mothers agree that maintaining good hygiene is important in the first few months of their child’s life, including nearly nine in ten (88%) who strongly agree.
  • More than nine in ten (93%) mothers believe that access to clean water in the first few months of their child’s life is important for sterilising bottles for feeding, including more than four in five (82%) who believe that it is very important.
  • Nearly all (96%) breastfeeding mothers feel/felt the need to increase the amount of water they are/were drinking when they are/were breastfeeding compared to before they breast fed, including three in five (61%) who say they feel/felt the need to a large extent.
  • When asked to nominate the top activity or task for which access to clean water is most important during the first few months of their child’s life, nearly half (47%) of mothers cite preparing formula. This is followed by sterilising equipment (28%), bathing their child (21%) and doing a load of laundry (4%).
  • All (100%) mothers agree that it is important to have access to clean water in the first few weeks postpartum, including more than nine in ten (94%) who strongly agree.

About CARE International

CARE International has been operating in Gaza and the West Bank since 1948. Prior to the current conflict, we were supporting about 200,000 Palestinians in Gaza and we continue to support about 300,000 in the West Bank to meet basic food needs, improve farming and agriculture, empower women to earn an income, support women’s leadership, and improve health programs focused on gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, and children’s mental health.

About CARE Australia

CARE Australia supports women around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. We work in partnership with local communities to provide equal opportunities for women that they have long been denied: the ability to earn an income, gain access to their fair share of resources, to lead and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and to be able to withstand the increasing impacts of climate disasters and other crises.







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