BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 22 March '17

More than 923m people don’t have access to safe drinking water, and 2.4bn don’t have adequate sanitation

Without water, there is no life, no food and no development. Without water, neither countries nor societies can develop economically, culturally, socially or politically.

Access to water is key and has an impact on all of our lives – not only in directly affected regions of Africa or Asia-Pacific and certain regions of Latin America, but also in developed countries in Europe and North America. Lack of access to clean water can contribute to famine, wars and uncontrolled and irregular migration.

Millions without safe water

Currently 319 million (32%) of Sub-Saharan Africans, 554 million Asians (12.5%) and 50 million Latin Americans 8%) don’t have access to safe drinking water.

Of these regions, Papua New Guinea (40%) has the lowest availability, followed by Equatorial Guinea (48%), Angola (49%), Chad and Mozambique (51%), the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar (52%) and Afghanistan (55%).

‘Water is an essential ingredient for social and economic development across nearly all sectors. It secures enough food for all, provides sufficient and stable energy supplies, and ensures market and industrial stability amongst others benefits. In the context of natural disasters and climate change, floods and droughts are at the root cause of many of our societies´ woes. Improved multi-purpose infrastructure is an essential step towards growth for many developing countries.’

BENEDITO BRAGA
President of the World Water Council

A wake-up call

Worldwide, the total cost of water insecurity to the global economy is estimated at US $500 billion annually. If the environmental impact is also considered, this figure may rise to 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

To mark World Water Day today (22 March), the World Water Council (WWC) is calling on all governments to focus on water issues and contribute part of their budget to projects that make safe water available to all on the planet.

They are being asked to consider the shocking fact that 12% of the world´s population currently does not have access to safe drinking water and that water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year.

The World Water Council says local and regional governments must prioritise access to sanitation and water if we are to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal number six. Universal access to water and sanitation cannot be achieved without good local governance, sustainable management of natural resources and effective urbanisation.

‘There is an absolute necessity to increase water security in order to overcome the challenges brought on by climate change and human influence.

‘World leaders realise that sanitation is fundamental to public health, but we need to act now in order to achieve the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goal no. 6 – to deliver safe water and sanitation to everyone everywhere by 2030. We need commitment at the highest levels, so every town and city in the world can ensure that safe, clean water resources are available.’

BENEDITO BRAGA
President of the World Water Council

A universal human right

Many countries are aware of the importance of water security. While the right to water and sanitation was recognised by the UN in 2010, two-thirds of the 94 countries surveyed by the World Health Organization in 2014 recognised drinking water and sanitation as a universal human right specifically in national legislation.

More than 80% reported having national policies in place for drinking water and sanitation and more than 75% have created policies for hygiene.

However, much more remains to be done. An estimated $650 billion US dollars of annual investment is required from now until 2030 to ensure the infrastructure necessary to achieve universal water security is put into place.

‘This year, the impact of wastewater is the focus of World Water Day. Approximately 90% of the world’s wastewater flows untreated into the environment while more than 923 million people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, 2.4 billion do not have adequate sanitation, one out of five children under the age of five die prematurely each year from water-related diseases, and nearly 40% of the population already face water scarcity, which may increase to 66%, or two-thirds of the population, by 2025. In addition, approximately 700 million people are living in urban areas without safe toilets.’

BENEDITO BRAGA
President of the World Water Council

A high return on investment

The World Water Council is currently organising the 8th World Water Forum, the world’s largest water-related event. The upcoming event is expected to be attended by over 30.000 participants and will take place in just one year’s time, from 18-23 March 2018, in Brasilia, under the theme ‘Sharing Water.’

‘The world has fallen short on its sanitation target, leaving 2.4 billion people without access to improved sanitation facilities. It is therefore imperative that all nations continue to improve water and sanitation. For every dollar invested in water and sanitation, there is an estimated $4.3 dollar (400%) return in the form of reduced health care costs for individuals and society worldwide. In the run-up to the World Water Forum in Brazil in March 2018, which will bring together over 30,000 politicians, experts, academics and NGOs to work towards enhanced water security and water availability, I encourage all governments to contribute a higher percentage of their overall budgets to projects that increase water security.’

BENEDITO BRAGA
President of the World Water Council

The previous World Water Forum was organised by the World Water Council in the Republic of Korea, and brought together tens of thousands of participants from 168 countries – including nine heads of State, 80 governmental ministers and hundreds official national and local government delegations.

Click here for more about The World Water Council.