One in three people, globally, do not have access to safe drinking water, the United Nations says
Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely-managed drinking water, according to a new report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Around 4.2 billion go without safe sanitation services and three billion lack basic hand washing facilities, it said, reports UNB.
“If the water is not clean, is not safe to drink, or is far away—and if toilet access is unsafe or limited—then we are not delivering for the world’s children,” Associate Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at Unicef Kelly Ann Naylor said.
The Joint Monitoring Program's “Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2000-2017: Special Focus on Inequalities” report finds that while significant progress has been made towards achieving universal access to WASH, there are large gaps in the quality of services provided.
The report revealed that since the turn of the century, 1.8 billion people have gained access to basic drinking water services, but vast inequalities in accessibility, availability, and quality prevail.
Estimates show that one in 10 people still lack basic services – including 144 million individuals who drink untreated surface water.
The data illustrates that eight in 10 people in rural areas lack access to these services.
“Countries must double their efforts on sanitation or we will not reach universal access by 2030,” WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Maria Neira said.
The report also highlights new data showing that in 2017, three billion people lacked basic soap and water hand washing facilities at home – including nearly three quarters of those in the Least Developed Countries category.
Every year, 297,000 under-age-five children die from diarrhea linked to inadequate WASH facilities.
Poor sanitation and contaminated water also help transmit diseases, such as: cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.
Since 2000, the proportion of the population practicing open defecation has halved—from 21% to 9%—and 23 countries have nearly eliminated this; meaning that less than 1% of the population is practicing open defecation, according to Unicef.
Yet, 673 million people still practice open defecation, and they are increasingly concentrated in "high burden" countries, it said.
Worse, in 39 countries—the majority of which are in sub-Saharan Africa and have experienced rapid population growth—the number of people practicing open defecation has actually increased.