Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
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Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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health and pollution > factfile > water and sanitation

Water and sanitation

Posted: 30 Jul 2004

The provision of clean water and proper sanitation would do more than any other improvement to reduce sickness and death in the developing world. Cholera was eliminated in Europe not by vaccines or antibiotics but by clean water and proper sanitation.

Map showing global sanitation coverage for 2000

  • Every year more than 5 million people die of illnesses linked to unsafe drinking water, improper excreta disposal and unclean domestic environments. Unsanitary conditions lead to over 3 million deaths annually worldwide from diarrhoeal diseases (including dysentery and typhoid).

  • The poorest billion people on earth are seven times more likely to die from infectious diseases and illness related to childbirth than the least poor billion. Most of these conditions are linked to bad sanitation.

  • Progress is being made: between 1990 and 2000, over 800 million people gained access to improved water supply and some 750 million people to improved sanitation. Yet over 1 billion people worldwide still lack improved water supply, and 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation facilities, which exposes them to a massive burden of disease.

  • As populations grow and water use per person rises, demand for fresh water is soaring. Yet the supply is finite and threatened by pollution. Already, about one-third of the world�s population lives in countries suffering from mdoerate to high water stress - where water consumption is more than 10 per cent of renewable freshwater resources.

  • Urban services face the greatest challenge, with over 1 billion additional people needing access to both water supply and sanitation by 2015. To meet their needs would be equivalent to building the water supply and sanitation infrastructure to serve about three times the population of North America.

Links:

Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report.

Global Environmental Outlook 2002

Solutions for a water-short world

Water and Sanitation in the World's Cities, UN-Habitat, 2003.

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