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The Water and Sanitation crisis

One in eight people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. One in three people don’t have a safe, clean toilet. This is a global crisis and a violation of human rights.

1.8 billion people have gained access to drinking water between 1990 and 2008.1 However, a staggering 884 million people still face a daily struggle for water.2

Women and children walk long distances every day to fetch water for their needs. They often walk to unprotected water sources, such as rivers or muddy dugouts, and the average weight of water they carry is 20kg.3 In urban areas, many people have no choice but to collect water from polluted waterways or pay high prices to vendors who obtain it from unknown sources.

This lack of access impacts severely upon health, education, and income:

  • 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.4
  • Time spent helping collect water and frequent illnesses caused by poor sanitation provision means children are missing out on education.
  • Meeting the MDG target on sanitation and water would free up 20 billion working days each year.5

Although 1.3 billion people gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 20086, 2.6 billion people still live without a clean toilet.7 Instead, they have only a roadside, bucket or plastic bag to use. Besides enduring daily shameful situations, the lack of safe sanitation facilities also recurrently leads to water contamination and the spreading of diarrhoeal diseases such as dysentery and cholera.

  1. WHO, GLAAS Report 2010
  2. UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Report, 2010
  3. UNDP, Human Development Report, 2006
  4. WHO, Safer Water, Better Health, 2008
  5. WHO, GLAAS Report 2010
  6. UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Report, 2010


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