Water is one of life’s necessities. It’s something many of us take for granted, but it’s something many people live without or live without enough of. The people we support in prisons all over the world do not always have clean water to drink. We give grants to people in these countries so that they can buy clean water and we can also provide water filters so that people can clean the dirty water that they have access to.

Having access to clean water is a basic human right.

Below you can read what some prisoners have said about water – access to it, and what a lack of it can mean to them.

The staff at Prisoners Abroad have also written about what water means to them, and how they regard it, interact with it and think about it.



You have no idea how much I need the fund and how helpful it is. It's like giving a man water to drink while stranded in the desert.


Since even water for drinking and washing had to be purchased, I relied on loans from prisoners. As much as people want to be charitable, the knowledge that having no money means having no water makes people necessarily careful to avoid running out.

-ML, Cambodia

Your financial support it has been a god send allowing me clean drinking water and edible food.

-LS, Indonesia

Being able to communicate is as important as having access to clean drinking water.

-VS, France


Staff at Prisoners Abroad

The only time I think about water is when I read a feature in a magazine saying we should all be drinking ‘x’ litres of water a day – and I think I must drink more! – it never occurs to me that there could not be enough of it available for me.


I get migraines really easily and if you have ever experienced a migraine, you’ll know how painful and disorienting they are! Drinking water throughout the day helps reduces the likelihood of getting one for me. I can’t imagine all the difficulties people face without access to clean drinking water.


Water - so easy to take for granted when you have it, so difficult when you don’t have it.


What does water mean to us?  The power of the sea ……. the flow of a river …… the beauty of a waterfall ……. the misery of grey rainy days …….. the stillness of a pond ……  a glass of ice cold, crystal clear water …… we each have a different view of it.

However, drinking dirty water creates an instant and fundamental fear – of immediate sickness but also of water borne diseases which could result in life-long ill health and disability.

Being able to turn on a tap with a seemingly endless supply of fresh, clean water is not only a remarkable feat of engineering but also massively important in ways which we take completely for granted.

For those people who are detained in overseas prisons which have limited supplies and insanitary conditions, people are driven to drink water to survive even though they know it will make them sick.  We know that some prisons draw unfiltered water from city rivers, the some have open tanks of water in which inmates wash and are swum in by birds and rats – and yet are the only source of drinking water.

No matter what country, on remand or sentenced, innocent or guilty - it simply can’t be right to treat people like that.


Water may seem like such a simple thing and we may not give its importance a second thought. But dirty water can make people ill, and for those we work with that can lead to unsanitary prison conditions, unnecessary suffering, and expensive medical bills. It may not seem like much but it can mean the difference between good health and sickness, hygiene and loss of dignity, life and death.


Water is probably the most significant ‘element’ in my life!

I constantly have a glass or bottle of water on the go.

I therefore go to the loo A LOT.

And therefore wash my hands a lot too.

I shower and wash my hair every day to feel clean.

And wash my clothes before they are grubby.

I have lovely bamboos and agapanthus growing in my garden and plenty of house plants.

Some of those are essential needs; some just make my life more comfortable.

It saddens me that so many of our clients do not have access to clean water to drink, or to wash in, or even sanitary / flushable toilets.


After the very cold weather a few weeks ago, some areas in London were left without any water. It’s at moments like this that you realise the amount of water you use on a daily basis and how stuck you are without it. Hopefully it reminded people again of how fortunate we are that (usually) we have access to clean water all day every day, not everyone is as lucky as we are.


Water changes everything. Without water we cannot live. If you do not have access to clean water not only are you at risk of life threatening disease but you cannot maintain your hygiene, clean your clothes or wash the plates that you eat off. Water is the basis for life therefore everyone should have the right to clean water.


I drink a pint of it when I wake up, then I fill the kettle with it, then shower in it, then put clean clothes on that I’ve washed with it – without even giving it a second thought. I’m not able to imagine not having access to it but I am fully aware that is the reality for a lot of people.


I try and remind myself how lucky I am to have clean running water and to be able to have a hot bath every day if I want to (mainly when I get back from a Calais trip but also in relation to prisoners).

Also, should probs drink way more than I do...


Comfort and warmth and peacefulness when I have a soak in the bath.


I think about how lucky I am when I turn the tap on and water flows freely


Be a part of our life-saving work

£10 a month for a year could ensure two prisoners have access to clean water to keep them alive