September 2023
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Should you donate to the WaterAid charity?

Last week a charity called WaterAid ran a series of TV ads appealing for money to provide clean water for families in Ethiopia.

I’m sure WaterAid do excellent work and I’m sure they do provide clean water and sanitation for hundreds of thousands of people who wouldn’t otherwise get them. But should we be donating at all?

WaterAid raises and spends about £74m a year, has 684 staff and its chief executive gets a remuneration package of £141,201. That’s about the same as the British Prime Minister, who is responsible for a rather larger budget and rather more people. Moreover, the chief executive seems quite well rewarded compared to the chief executives at some other, much larger, charities. One might wonder, for example, why WaterAid’s chief executive should get £32,000 a year more than the chief executive of Oxfam (£109,000 a year) which has a budget (£386m) five times as large as WaterAid and around 5,000 employees compared to WaterAid’s 684 employees.

But let’s not allow that to dissuade us from helping WaterAid. Instead let’s look at the estimated wealth of Ethiopia’s ten richest people, all of whom appear to be part of or have close relations with the Ethiopian Government:

The 10 Richest Ethiopians in 2013

1. Mohammed Al Amoudi – Controls gold mines and massive tracts of fertile lands that were handed to him by Meles Zenawi, after their owners were kicked out and displaced. Estimated net worth: $10bn.

2. Azeb Mesfin – Widow of the late dictator Meles Zenawi, commonly known as the “mother of corruption” has ownership interests in many of the biggest companies in Ethiopia. Estimated net worth: $4bn.

3. mBerhane Gebrekiristos – The closest and most trust friend of Meles and Azeb; launders their loot out of the country. Estimated net worth: $2bn.

4. Sebhat Nega – His fortune has been declining after he was kicked out of the TPLF politburo and the Endowment Fund for the Relief of Tigray (EFFORT) by Meles and Azeb; he is currently rebounding. Estimated net worth $2bn.

5. Seyoum Mesfin – Current Ethiopian ambassador to China, former foreign affairs minister, used his chairmanship of Ethiopian Airlines and diplomatic status to smuggle illegal drugs between Africa and Asia; he is perhaps the biggest drug trader in Africa. Estimated net worth: $1.8bn

6. Samuel Tafesse – One of Azeb Mesfin’s business partners; their relationship has gone sour over the past couple of years, negatively affecting his construction business. Estimated net worth: $1.6bn

7. Abay Teshay – A senior member of the ruling party, has blind partnerships with many of the big companies in Ethiopia. Net worth: $1.5bn

8. Omer Ali Shifaw – Owner of Nejat International, whose wealth has been declining after TPLF started to compete with his coffee exporting business. Estimated net worth: $500m

9. Eyob Mamo – CEO and Chairman of Capitol Petroleum Group, Washington DC. Estimated worth: $500m.

10 . Suhura Ismail Khan – She has become the biggest khat trader in East Africa by establishing partnerships with TPLF officials and forging a close friendship with the late dictator Meles Zenawi. The TPLF-occupied Ethiopian embassies around the world are her main khat export routes to the Diaspora. Estimated net worth: $200m

It would seem that the Ethiopian elites have more than enough money to provide clean water and sanitation for all their people without WaterAid’s help!

As in so many Third World countries, the aid we give is just allowing the corrupt, kleptocratic elites to steal money from their countries as they know we’ll look after their impoverished people.

And let’s look at the population of Ethiopia:

population re band aid

When Saint Bob did his BandAid gig, there were about 40 million Ethiopians. Now there are 96 million. No wonder they don’t all have clean water and sanitation. No wonder they’re flooding across the Med, headed for Europe.

When asking for our money, charities like WaterAid forget to mention the scale of corruption in the countries where they work and they gloss over the unsustainable rate of population growth.

Likewise, when telling us that Africans drowning in the Med is all our fault, the media and the bleeding-heart opinion-formers also don’t mention the real reason for the tsunami of African immigrants – rampant corruption and unsustainable population growth.

It’s time to stop this foreign aid farce. It’s time to tell the truth:

1. African leaders steal three times as much from their countries each year than we give in aid. If we could just cut the level of corruption in Africa by half, we wouldn’t need to give any aid at all and the countries would still be better off

2. If Africans were to practice just a little birth control, then maybe 80% of them wouldn’t be living in abject poverty (less than $1.25 a day)

44 comments to Should you donate to the WaterAid charity?

  • BaronessBonkers

    Sorry, am I bothered by insufficient water in Ethiopia? No.
    Yes, I am bothered about them and others all coming over here where water shortage is also a (not talked about) problem and getting worse with every immigrant landing here.

  • Bob

    That is one of the most disgusting, selfish, horrible things I have ever heard. No one chose to be born where they are. You should switch places with a starving African person before deciding whether they ‘deserve’ your sympathy. People like you are the problem of the world.

  • How do you know they are starving have you seen them starving? And i dont mean on the t.v when there acting poor to get money from the dumb west. Idiot. The point he is making is that the “starving” people are having children on a massive scale. 11 children+, please tell how the hell this is sustainable??. The british public alone has been providing millions of pounds for over 30 years, but the problems only got worse.

  • JohnBradley

    Wateraid appears to be a job for the boys, possibly a Scam. Advertisers should be made to show the salaries of these so called directors. They raise about 74 million pounds a year, they have 684 employees, therefore after taking out all salaries cost of TV adverts, and other overheads, it does not leave much to fund water projects. Why don’t the very rich people in that country who make 25 billion a year contribute to the cause?

  • Ali Karolia

    And I was just about to donate £500.00. The comments above are very interesting. And funnily enough, the gist of all the comments I agree with. I agree with donating to poor people and helping them live a better life, especially providing clean water. But I also agree with investigating CEO’s of charities who get paid a hell of a lot and where the money donated really goes. Also, I think charities doing the same or similar things should be forced to merge. One CEO to pay instead of ten. Also investigating the countries and using resources to tackle the corruption to redirect funds to the development. A project management approach with various streams doing all the activities at the same time.

  • Helen Dale

    Why are we still being besieged with these appeals? I pay enough from my taxes towards the bloated overseas aid budget to put right problems like this. I’ve just had six years of my (paid for) state pension taken from me so that we can ( amongst other things) support all those who don’t help themselves. I’m sick and tired (literally).

  • John Riggs

    A friend of mine told me recently that he knows someone who worked, briefly, for a water providing charity (I’m assuming it was this one, but not certain.) He was employed in the actual digging of wells, and had intended it to be a lifelong occupation, which, he felt, was a worthwhile one. He returned after just over a year, disillusioned. According to him, it costs, on average, about £5,000 to dig a well. The budget for that period was almost £200,000. After digging two wells, the money had run out. When wells were actually dug and a clean water supply provided, more often than not, the supply soon ran out – the locals simply didn’t seem to understand that it was not an inexhaustible supply and left the tap running the whole time.

  • Eze Ugonne

    AID is a western industry, using (mostly) images of poor africans as bait. If you truly drill down to how the money is spent,you will discover that 5% only goes to the african baits. The rest is spent sustaining the western industry: huge western workforce (they wont even hire local skilled people .. only menial labourers), extensive properties, huge executive wages, expensive tv adverts.

    So, people, wise up and stop pointing fingers at the scapegoat africans. Stop moaning about immigrants who were ripped off on the basis of a ‘commonwealth’ ..

    I guess it’s convenient to bury your heads and refuse to acknowledge the reality of the historical and on-going rip-off of africans by western industry. Africans must keep paying to keep westerners blameless and guilt-free .. yeah, we have begun to understand the score.

  • I don’t think we should pay for these projects. It’s the responsibility of those countries governments to provide basic essentials like clean water.

  • Ali

    Its all been made up to rip off you naive people why them rich people don’t donate because they are all behind this this is the way how they can rip you off
    Paying a 10%to some government they take so me people who is role players and here you go you donate
    I wouldn’t wonder if some of these people arr from England

  • Jack

    If we give nothing those who need our aid get nothing. I as an individual can do nothing about corruption but can’t sit by & give people no help…. Mots the right thing to do

  • ‘Never heard of the Beatles’

    I found this in error. So much of what has been said is absolutely true and reprehensible. I am a Rotarian and I run a small Water and Sanitation charity and take no salary or my team, again many Rotarians. We offer to work with the big boys but solving problems puts them out of work.

    We help women and children purely from donations. We work on the ground not through agencies creaming off goods and money. We buy or make the goods, preferably in the developing country and our team distributes the goods. No one needs to pay for our help but they only get it once and then they need to stand alone and THEY DO.

    No one gets cash and we do not pop over there and say we know your problem we know your solution. That is patronising in the extreme. We ask them, include them. They are POOR not stupid.

    and finally for all those doubters, let me say the people at the bottom of the pile do not even know how high the pile is…they know little about billionaires. I even met Ethiopians and Kenyans and Zambians who never heard of the BEATLES…heaven forbid.

    If you wary of donating check out the end game.

    Salaries are necessary but far too high, travel economy instead of first class but most of all educate those in need that more children etc means more poverty, unlike the Social Security system here in UK.

    look at what my team do…it is simple and manageable

  • Lynx

    Yes I clearly remember the Wells that we donated money to build and the natives educated to maintain those Wells. Never hear anything about them now. What about birth control? How about their governments of these countries being held responsible for their own people, instead of us giving them a free pass by handing billions in aid. We also have a huge influx of immigrants into the UK, we are a small country and have poverty, homelessness, abuse of childrem, mistreatment of elderly who fought for our country, drugs, alcoholism, domestic abuse,slavery, jobs being given to immigrants as they accept Far less pay and live 3-12 in bedsits making it impossible for us natives to earn a decent salary to feed cloth and house ourselves and our families. Most of us practice birth control but these people come here with 4 kids in tow and produce more? It’s funny, it produces hatred and division between us and them. They are disgusted by us yet get special treatment by police, councils, government etc. So NO the big eyed child drinking water with cow piss in it…please don’t be gullible. Even if it were the case as it has apparently been for 50+ years, most level headed people know the money is not going where it’s needed. Look after our own, as these billionaire foreigners and there governments should be.

  • Jaques Alston

    However little goes to the actual people suffering, if we give nothing, that’s what they will receive… So much as I hate the jobs/money for the western boys gravy train I cannot stop supporting those vulnerable people…. Whether the leaders of their countries are wealthy or not.
    To add to this….. Do people imagine a woman in an African village has a choice over whether she has unprotected sex….?

  • Tom winstanley

    I wouldn’t give a penny to any charity and the reason why pigs in the trough just like mps in this country England corrupt as he’ll it’s disgusting what all these chief ex’s are on age UK won’t even disclose what their chief ex’s are on get wise people don’t give any money to any charity till the corruption stops

  • Ken

    It’s another scam, these so called aid organizations with their fake ads are raking in millions in profit, why does the UK think the third world can’t survive without their help

  • Cledwyn Merriman

    I asked about their use of low tech solutions like SODIS and solar ovens.
    They replied that providing purification tablets (I didn’t ask about tablets) would not be fair as it would form a two tier system.That seems more important than providing potable water.
    I guess nobody makes a profit from low tech solutions or is there a tax on sunlight.

  • Most charities seem to have the policy to pay their top staff exorbitant salaries and then if any thing is left maybe spend it the poor and vulnerable.Giving money to charities has not cured food and water shortages maybe it’s time to stop and think it is time these people started sorting themselves out.

  • Iain

    If 800 die in one day that,s 292000 a year times that by 10 years that,s 2,920,000. One of the richest countries they should be taught about contraception instead of breeding by ten of thousands

  • Mike

    They have been tought remember the adverts that told us to give money for sex education, don’t there government need to stand up now and stop taking every gulable persons money and stop been so corrupt

  • BitCoin Rebel

    Everywhere you find money you find corruption. Humankind existed for the best part of 200,000 years without any form of money and banking system. The solution is to free the world from this corruption and disparity causing system of existence, which has put the world under the malevolent authority of a criminal financial elite who have no hesitation in killing the world’s poorest.

  • John

    It’s all a scam, that ads on TV along with the stupid “facts” they try to get us to believe, truth is these countries have managed for thousands of years without the involment of the UK do Golders who are only out to profit, wouldn’t give a penny to the scammers you see on TV


  • B Frost

    Water Aid only spends 38p in every £1 from individual donors on actual water projects in developing country’s (check their accounts). The rest goes on head offive costs such as fundraising, attending interantional conferences and paying bloated salaries to CEOs. Its an organisation, like many other big charities, which plays on guilt and gullibility to maxise income. Speak to people in the sector – the consensus is that Water Aid and other large charities perpetuate aid dependency rather than combat poverty. After all, for water aid staff, repaying their mortgages is dependent on pimping poverty.

  • Adrian Brewer

    B Frost….I wonder

  • Nicholas Taylor

    These comments are of course mainly negative – the echo-chamber effect – but do show that there is never a single answer to any human or moral question because people have incompatible interests. I suspect that the case against corruption and uncontrolled population growth – Africa has the world’s highest rate – wins, not least because you have to look at the long-term consequences which are simply not sustainable. When it comes to water shortage, as opposed to quality, those countries affected – Middle East, South Africa, California – are rich enough to sort themselves out. Elsewhere in Africa, climate change may indeed bring water shortage but until then I think the problem is a traditional inability to recognise and manage a common interest, not a problem in the past but a big problem today. At its most brutal, nature takes its course. I can point to the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt among other ancient societies.

  • Ken Mc Carthy

    was just about to donate but having read all the above comments I dont think I will…unfortunately there is definitely something amiss with this charity

  • Bob

    I live in a small town in Suffolk (uk) where one of these so called water aid groups is based , the so called proprietor drives round in a Ferrari ! Just saying!

  • Ivor Condom

    Sick to the back teeth of scrounging adverts on TV and that will never help the problem.


    The problem with third world “poverty” isnt the lack of finance but the greed of its wealthy leaders and their unwillingness to release their billions to address the poverty which they claim exists.Finance apart it is a myth that Britain or europe have a monopoly on problem solving usually via their wallets when the reality is quite the opposite .All nations have the means financially or otherwize to solve its problems the time is now to do so .

  • James Smith

    Co-dependent corruption.

  • John Haney

    I have been donating £5 per month to Wateraid for the past 15yrs. After reading comments and facts about this “ charity “ I will be cancelling my direct debit. I had wondered for some Time about the charity. All I ever received was mail asking to increase my subscription. So no more..

  • Donate it to my charity Roll Out the Barrel. No employees, no salaries, no adverts at all, every penny to help those who actually need it and appreciate it. £900 over that time we would help 30 families which in some parts is 250 people. Clean water is a necessity for all of us and once they have it they get the kids to school, have less disease and are considerably healthier. Rocket science it ain’t.

  • Mrs Violet Hatch

    I used to donate to Water Aid but got so many calls harrassing me to increase intonation that in the end I cancelled it.I explained that I was a pensioner and have what I could afford but the calls for not stop.

  • Violet…this is one reason why so many generous people stop giving.

    Here at we never pester you, we do not write, except to say thank you and we spend donations wisely, not on salaries, cars and lovely offices.

    We work on the ground literally hand in hand with the needy communities.

    Not asking for a donation but letting you know that there are some out here who are aware that some donors are fatigued.


  • David

    I have never donated to any charity , when CEO’s are earning hundreds o& thousands for what. If we all stop donating they will stop producing more kids to feed and water .
    Have you seen the car park are bernardos , rollers , bentleys and astons everywhere

  • John Bradley

    These films that are seen on most of these children charities, are leased by professional film companies. Wateraid maintain they have given water to 27 million. What total lies. That’s nearly half of the UK population. Never give money to these common conmen. Let the Government pay for water. John Bradley esq.

  • Laurence Kelsey

    WaterAid like all charities are scams people getting rich on the.most of what they’ve done is broken or in disrepair.

  • A dork

    Oxfam are the worst charity only 10p in every pound gets to the poor

  • Donna

    I have came up with the best idea ever to generate money for water charities – i already give to WaterAid and so i was researching their company when i found this – i will be cancelling my Direct Debit to them and contacting Adrian at ROTB instead – thank goodness i did my research and for organisations like ROTB

  • Adrian Brewer

    Donna. While thank you personally for your kind words, can I ask the idea as we as a small charity struggle to raise funds and it always takes something innovative to get people interested. We have no budget for expensive ads so appealing to people either with a fun event or as a partner is our way.

    Take Care Adrian

  • Donna

    Hi Adrian,
    I will email you within the next few days – no financial outlay required for this idea!


  • Stephen Huddlestone

    Those of you who do not wish to help people who are dying in underdeveloped countries do not have to do anything. Just ignore the appeals and let the people who have a conscience and a sole do the donating. There are 2 kinds of people, those who don’t care and those who do.

  • Pete williams

    Even the TV advert’s a ‘con’!
    In one of the first ‘shots’, the child is pulling a bucket of clear, clean water from the supposed dirty primitive well. In the closing shots, the buckets are empty, the lack of inertia shows in the lack of weight that ‘full’ buckets carry.
    Like all the other ‘charity’ adverts, they all tell what a donation ‘could’ or ‘might’ be used for, never ‘will’
    Allt these scams are made by companies like Clic Sargeant and Just donate.
    And they should be investivated by the charities commission about the massive profits these companies make in the name of ‘charity’.

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