Report: Global Water Crisis

Release Date: 
Saturday, 1 September, 2007

World Water Day was celebrated this year on March 22nd with a special focus on "Coping with Water Scarcity." Because of high population growth, unsound consumption patterns, pollution, and low efficiency in the use of water, the availability of water supply is under great duress. There is a great need for an integrated and sustainable approach to water resources management.

About 1.1 billion people in the world lack regular access to clean and safe water, and about 2.6 billion lack access to proper sanitation. The second UN International Water Decade (2005-2015) calls for action to resolve the global water crisis and by 2015 to reduce by half, the proportion of people in the world who have no sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Furthermore, with even more water needed in the future to grow food, to operate industries, to support expanding cities and population growth, the water supply-demand gap is likely to grow wider still and threaten economic and social development. Water resources management is of crucial importance in overcoming water scarcity.

A report commissioned by the UN Development Program contents that poverty, inequality, and power politics are at the heart of the water scarcity problem. Not having access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is especially a problem for those living in poverty and vulnerable to life-threatening diseases. In the poorest countries, not having access to safe clean water means people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to severe public health and security problems.

Studies show that lack of water as a basic resource results in two million deaths of children a year from such preventable diseases as diarrhea and other diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. Because women and young girls collect water for their families, this keeps girls from attending school and limits their employment opportunities.

Access to clean and safe water should be seen as a human right, an entitlement that should be an obligation of governments. There should be strong concerted drive to extend access to water and sanitation for all through well designed and properly financed national plans, backed by a global plan of action to mobilize resources.

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