- 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people.
- 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
- People living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
- An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
- Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection.
- 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all.
- Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most occupy impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities.
- Diarrhea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.
- Diarrhea is more prevalent in the developing world due, in large part, to the lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as poorer overall health and nutritional status.
- Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time. In the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water.
- 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year.
- In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use.
- This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.
- Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.
- A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. This supports an earlier World Bank study that found that women’s participation was strongly associated with water and sanitation project effectiveness.
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. (1)
- The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.9
- Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Such improvements reduce child mortality and improve health and nutritional status in a sustainable way.
- 88% of cases of diarrhea worldwide are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.
- 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries.
- It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhea-related deaths in young children by more than one-third. If hygiene promotion is added, such as teaching proper hand washing, deaths could be reduced by two thirds. It would also help accelerate economic and social development in countries where sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days because of illness.
- Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.
- Investment in safe drinking water and sanitation contributes to economic growth. For each $1 invested, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates returns of $3 – $34, depending on the region and technology.
- Almost two in every three people who need safe drinking water survive on less than $2 a day and one in three on less than $1 a day.
- Households, not public agencies, often make the largest investment in basic sanitation, with the ratio of household to government investment typically 10 to 1.
- Investment in drinking-water and sanitation would result in 272 million more school attendance days a year. The value of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, would amount to US$ 3.6 billion a year.
- Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
- More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.
- The UN estimates that by 2025, forty-eight nations, with combined population of 2.8 billion, will face freshwater “stress” or “scarcity”. Our Water.org High School Curriculum
- Agriculture is the largest consumer of freshwater by far: about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated agriculture.
- At home the average American uses between 100 and 175 gallons of water a day. That is less than 25 years ago, but it does not include the amount of water used to feed and clothe us.
- Conserving water helps not only to preserve irreplaceable natural resources, but also to reduce the strain on urban wastewater management systems. Wastewater is costly to treat, and requires continuous investment to ensure that the water we return to our waterways is as clean as possible. Water.org High School curriculum
Towards a way to improve the situation
With the current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is a increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.
Whatever the use of freshwater (agriculture, industry, domestic use), huge saving of water and improving of water management is possible. Almost everywhere, water is wasted, and as long as people are not facing water scarcity, they believe access to water is an obvious and natural thing. With urbanization and changes in lifestyle, water consumption is bound to increase. However, changes in food habits, for example, may reduce the problem, knowing that growing 1kg of potatoes requires only 100 litres of water, whereas 1 kg of beef requires 13 000 litres.
- Improving drinking water supply
Water should be recognized as a great priority. One of the main objectives of the World Water Council is to increase awareness of the water issue. Decision-makers at all levels must be implicated. One of the Millenium Development Goals is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. To that aim, several measures should be taken:
- guarantee the right to water;
- decentralise the responsibility for water;
- develop know-how at the local level;
- increase and improve financing;
- evaluate and monitor water resources.
- Improving trans-boundary cooperation
As far as t trans-boundary conflicts are concerned, regional economic development and cultural preservation can all be strengthened by states cooperating of water. Instead of a trend towards war, water management can be viewed as a trend towards cooperation and peace. Many initiatives are launched to avoid crises. Institutional commitments like in the Senegal River are created. In 2001, Unesco and Grenn Cross International have joined forces in response to the growing threat of conflicts linked to water. They launched the joint From Potential Conflicts to Co-Operation Potential programme to promote peace in the use of trans-boundary watercourses by addressing conflicts and fostering co-operation among states and stakeholders.
Information provided by: