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Cost of taking a shower across 89 countries reveals the lack of sanitation access globally

The cost of showering in 89 countries reveals how the issue of water scarcity is unjustly impacting underdeveloped countries.

Cost of taking a shower across 89 countries reveals the lack of sanitation access globally
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Yaroslav Shuraev

UN considers access to water, sanitation and hygiene a basic human right. One of the organization's primary goals is to ensure that people have access to resources related to personal hygiene all over the world. It is a challenging endeavor to achieve as per their estimates billions of people will struggle with these services by 2030. The main reasons for this struggle are rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry and energy sectors. However, the intensity of this issue differs in terms of where people are situated. An infographic produced by QS Supplies reveals the cost of taking a shower in 89 countries. It also analyzes how heavy these showers are on the pockets of people in those countries.


In the US, taking hot showers is not a big deal. People take it to feel good and more energized. The only thing people have to keep in mind before jumping in the shower is whether they need it or have the time. Other places do not have this privilege. In some countries, showering daily means using one-third or more of the average local's annual income. The disparity is more glaringly visible in the infographic, which provides the annual cost of warm showers in every country. In order to calculate this cost, QS supplies summed up electricity usage costs from GlobalPetrolPrices and water usage prices from various online sources. After that, affordability was analyzed by applying World Bank figures to compare the annual cost of showering to the average annual income in each country.

Image Source: QS Supplies
Image Source: QS Supplies via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The results varied far and wide across all the countries. The cost of showering was the most expensive in Denmark, chiming in at $802 a year. The UK was the 9th most expensive, while the US was the 36th most expensive. The cheapest were Egypt and Suriname. The aspect of affordability revealed that even though the cost of showering at some places might be high, individuals had no problem accessing it because it did not impact their basic needs. Therefore, despite being the 36th most expensive, the USA was the 3rd most affordable country to shower since it takes only 0.49% of its annual income.

Image Source: QS Supplies via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Image Source: QS Supplies via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The cheapest places to shower were the developing countries in South America, Africa and Central Asia. It was because they applied resources that significantly reduced the price of electricity. A case in point is Suriname, which applies hydroelectricity to generate 60% of its power. It brings down the cost to just $33 a year for taking warm showers. It was clear that the underdeveloped countries were impacted the most by the water scarcity. 

Rwanda was deemed to be the country where showering was the most expensive for people, taking 46.17% of the average annual income for people. Kianna Billman in her study, noted that countries like Rwanda struggle with water because of unsustainability. The infrastructure in place is not capable of providing for a huge population and the cost to rehabilitate it is putting too much pressure on local civilians.

UNESCO revealed in its report that at present, 2 billion people (26% of the population) do not have safe drinking water and 3.6 billion (46%) lack access to safely managed sanitation. According to the infographic, the crisis is unequally distributed, but sooner or later, it will have an impact all across the globe. Hence, the issue must be dealt with using a united front. Underdeveloped countries with poor infrastructure need to be supported to improve their infrastructure so that their civilians can gain equal access to sanitation.

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