Facts about Water
884 million people lack access to an improved water supply
- A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water.
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
- While basic needs vary, the minimum threshold of water use is 20 litres per day. Factoring in bathing and laundry needs would increase this to 50 litres per day.
- Most of the nearly 1 billion people lacking access to clean water live on about 5 litres of water a day. That’s about one tenth of the amount needed to flush a standard toilet.
- A five minute shower using a standard showerhead uses approximately 100 litres of water. Installing a low-flow version would help reduce water usage to 35 litres for the same five minute shower.
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*Bottled water is considered to be improved only when the household uses drinking water from an improved source for cooking and personal hygiene; where this information is not available, bottled water is classified on a case-by-case basis.
Facts about Sanitation
2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
- 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open.
- The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.
- Lack of sanitation is the world’s leading cause of infection.
- 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures the hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
- 88 per cent of all diseases are caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and insufficient hygiene.
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Facts about Women and Children
Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.
- 1.4 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.
- For children under five, water-related diseases are the leading cause of death.
- Parasitic infection transmitted through unclean water and poor sanitation hinders learning potential for more than 150 million children.
- Access to clean water and sanitation can reduce the risk of a child dying by as much as 50 per cent.
- Inadequate sanitation is experienced by millions of women as a loss of dignity and source of insecurity.
- Women shoulder the largest burden in collecting drinking water.
- Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys of the same age to carry the responsibility of collecting water.
Facts about Productivity
Almost two-thirds of people lacking access to clean water live on less than $2 a day.
- 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
- Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.
- Every $1 spend on water and sanitation creates on average another $8 in costs averted and productivity gained.
- Lack of clean water and sanitation creates lifecycles of disadvantage – with illness and lost educational opportunities in childhood leading to poverty in adulthood.
References* 2006 United Nations Human Development Report
* World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Report 2003
* WHO/UNICEF Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2010 Update
* World Bank, All About: Water and Health, CNN, December 18, 2007
* WHO/UNICEF 2008 Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation
* Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) A Guide to Investigating One of the Biggest Scandals of the Last 50 Years
* WHO Safe Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health