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Water crisis makes headlines around the world.
On World Water Day, let us look at the 10 most alarming water scarcity facts that the world is currently facing :
1. 784 million people around the world are without basic water access
The World Health Organization, a leader in global water data and planning, has categorised water accessibility into 5 groups: safely managed water sources, basic water sources, limited water sources, unimproved water sources, and surface water.
- Safely Managed water sources can be defined as a managed drinking water service that is located on the premises of a home or residence, is accessible whenever needed, and is free from contamination. Examples of safely managed water sources are kitchen faucets and taps drawn from a local reservoir where water is treated under municipal guidelines.
- Basic water sources are defined as improved water sources which are no further than 30 minutes for round trip access, but are not necessarily always free from contamination or accessible when needed. An example of a basic water source would be a community water station supplying a small village which may not always produce water when accessed.
- Limited water sources fit the description of a basic water source but are further than a 30 minute round trip
- Unimproved water sources include unprotected wells or springs
- Surface Water includes water collected directly from a river, dam, lake, or stream
2. More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.
The water crisis is a health crisis. Nearly 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases which could be reduced with access to safe water or sanitation.
Every 2 minutes a child dies from a water-related disease. Access to safe water and sanitation contributes to improved health and helps prevent the spread of infectious disease. It means reduced child and maternal mortality rates. It means reduced physical injury from constant lifting and carrying heavy loads of water. More than ever access to safe water is critical to the health of families around the world. (source: water.org)
3. Two billion people, or about 1 out 3, lack access to a toilet or latrine
That’s According to the WHO, 2.3 billion people, that’s 1 in 3 worldwide, lack access to even basic sanitation services. The majority of these people either practice open defecation or use unimproved sanitation such as pit latrines and buckets.
Safely managed sanitation systems are designed to remove human waste away from human contact. Those without safe systems run the risk of having their water supply become contaminated with human waste. The WHO reports that at least 2 billion people worldwide consume water form a source that is contaminated with feces. Fecal contamination in the water supply is a major cause of deadly waterborne diseases such as Hepatitis A, Norovirus, and E Coli.
4. Diarrheal diseases kill 2,195 children every day—more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined
Diarrheal diseases account for 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide, making diarrhea the second leading cause of death among children under the age of 5. For children with HIV, diarrhea is even more deadly; the death rate for these children is 11 times higher than the rate for children without HIV 2. Despite these sobering statistics, strides made over the last 20 years have shown that, in addition to rotavirus vaccination and breastfeeding, diarrhea prevention focused on safe water and improved hygiene and sanitation is not only possible, but cost effective: every $1 invested yields an average return of $25.50
5. Diarrheal diseases kill One Child Every 60 Seconds
According to UNICEF, Every 2 minutes a child dies from a water-related disease; mainly due to unsafe water supplies and poor sanitation and hygiene.
6. health facilities in Least Developed Countries have no safe water.
In least developed countries, 22% of health care facilities have no water service, 21% no sanitation service, and 22% no waste management service (source : WHO.org)
7. Women and girls Spend 40 Billion Hours / year collecting waters
In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend an estimated 40 billions hours a year collecting water.
Time spent gathering water or seeking safe sanitation accounts for billions in lost economic opportunities. $260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of basic water and sanitation. Access to safe water and sanitation at home turns time spent into time saved, giving families more time to pursue education and work opportunities that will help them break the cycle of poverty.
8. 400 Million School Days are lost due to Water-related Diseases
An estimated 400 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases, with 272 million lost to diarrhea alone.
When water comes from improved and more accessible sources, people spend less time and effort physically collecting it, meaning they can be productive in other ways. This can also result in greater personal safety by reducing the need to make long or risky journeys to collect water. Better water sources also mean less expenditure on health, as people are less likely to fall ill and incur medical costs, and are better able to remain economically productive.
With children particularly at risk from water-related diseases, access to improved sources of water can result in better health, and therefore better school attendance, with positive longer-term consequences for their lives.
9. $260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of basic water and sanitation.
Lost time gathering water significantly reduces productive farming time for women in parts of the developing world. With safe water nearby, it’s estimated that women could feed 150 million of the world’s hungry.
10. Access to safe water stimulates the economy for the long-term.
For every $1 invested in safe water and sanitation, a yield of $5 to $28 USD is returned in increased economic activity and reduced health care costs.
1. Reduce your excessive in-home water consumption and poor water management by using water-saving features, devices, and appliances, (i.e. low-flow aerators and shower heads, front-load washing machine, etc)
2. Support clean water initiatives to help the movement against the global water crisis
3. Educate ourselves and help raising awareness about sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services for all
The problem is huge, but it is not unsolvable. We can solve this crisis in our lifetime, and we expect to. Because there is still a long way to go.
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