Currently, over 800 million people in the world lack access to clean and safe drinking water. That is one in every eight people worldwide.
More than twice that many people, 2.5 billion, don’t have access to basic sanitation.
The majority of these people live in developing countries, with almost 40% of them located in Sub-Saharan Africa (where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is most prevalent).
It is estimated that women in underdeveloped nations spend more than 40 billion hours annually fetching and carrying water from unclean sources far from home.
Not only do individuals waste billions of hours collecting water when they could be earning income in other ways, most of their household income is used for purchasing water or treatment for water-related diseases.
People who are forced to drink or use contaminated water are exposed to a variety of diseases including malaria, typhoid, dysentery, and cholera, just to name a few.
When coupled with HIV/AIDS (as is the case in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa), a person’s immune system is unable to fight off even simple diseases such as diarrhea, much less the ones mentioned above.
Every day, water related diseases claim the lives of approximately 5,000 children, or roughly one child every 20 seconds.
Women in developing countries spend anywhere between 15-20 hours a week collecting water. These long walks can be dangerous, often resulting in rape or abduction – or other bodily injuries from carrying heavy loads of water.
Walking to collect water also takes away women’s time from their communities, caring for their families, and participating in economic productivity.
Because women are typically the family members that sacrifice other activities for water collection, not having access to safe drinking water is one of the underlying causes of gender inequality.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness.
Children who walk for hours every day to the closest water source are unable to attend school.
443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness.
The majority of the 150 million children currently out of school are girls.
-(WHO AND UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation. UNICEF, New York and WHO, Geneva, 2008.)
-(UNDP. 2006. Human Development Report 2006: Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty, and the Global Water Crisis,7)
-(UNICEF. Education the key to freeing tens of millions of children from hazardous labour 2008)
-(United Nations. The Millenium Development Goals Report (New York: United Nations, 2009) 46.)
– (World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2010 Update. (New York: UNICEF; Geneva: WHO), 7)
-(Living Water International 2009).