The Cost of Showers Around the World

You might not realize it, but regular showering is a luxury reserved only for people in the most developed countries. In many parts of the world, the cost of water to supply a shower far exceeds what many individuals can afford, or there’s insufficient plumbing and water treatment infrastructure to even make showers a reality.

So, when there is plumbing, what does water cost? Based on a 2012 report from the International Water Association—and calculating for a 17 gallon / 8.2 minute shower (U.S. averages)—the price of a shower can cost as much as 92 cents in countries like Madagascar and India, and a whopping $3.82 in Papua New Guinea. On the low end, showers can be as cheap as $0.03 in China and Argentina.

While a dollar per shower might not seem egregious to those of us in living in the U.S., taking a shower can cost as much as 70 percent of the average person’s daily income in countries like Papa New Guinea. People in Ethiopia and India would have to use one fifth of their daily income to pay for the same hot water that so many of us take for granted. If an American citizen had to spend 70% of his or her daily income on showers, it would cost $83 per day!

Of course, the price of a shower is moot for many people throughout the world. Nine-hundred million people on this planet don’t have access to clean water.  Twice that many people (1.8 billion) use a water source that’s contaminated with human waste. Contaminated water leads to the deaths of 3.3 million people every year. That’s the same number of people that graduated from high school in the U.S., in 2016.  

Imagine having to travel great distances multiple times a day just to get the water you need to survive. Such is the case for Aylito Binayo, of Ethiopia, who spends eight hours a day carrying 50 pounds of water from the nearest river back to her village. When having access to clean water is a full-time job, every drop needs to be conserved as much as possible. Aylito only uses 2.5 gallons of water per day. Compare that to the average American, who uses 100 gallons of water per day. The next time you hop in the shower, remember how important it is to conserve the water you have.