Residents of Accra pay almost five times as much for their water as people living in New York and twice as much as those living in London according to the 2006 Human Development report released by the United Nations Development Programme in November. In the Ghanaian capital water costs US $3.20 per cubic metre against US$ 0.70 per cubic metre in New York and US$ 1.80 per cubic metre in London. The same report, titled Beyond Scarcity: Power and Politics and the Global Water Crisis, says that people living in the slums of Nairobi pay five times more for their water than residents of affluent areas in the same city.

The disparity is largely due to differences in infrastructure and investment, with developing countries losing out to the developed world. In poor countries generally and in rural and urban slum areas within these countries in particular the frequent lack of a piped water system and the dearth of boreholes or standpipes means that water has to be brought in by tanker, with an associated rise in cost. The growing tendency to consider water as a commodity rather than as a basic necessity and right is partly to blame.