Posted on August 12, 2012 by Elisa in News


While writing the weekly water news for our website, we often come across articles and posts of different water NGOs. What always strikes us is how inaccurate and vague those articles often are when it comes to statistics and numbers.

We decided to compile a list of the most updated statistics from what we think are the most reliable sources. This way, you know where the world actually stands, in terms of water access and health and social disparities.

Access to water

● 783 million people lack access to improved water sources.

● By 2015, the number of people lacking access to improved water sources is expected to be 605 million.

● In just 20 years, demand for water will be 40 percent higher than it is today, and more than 50 percent higher in the most rapidly developing countries.

● No other single intervention is more likely to have a significant impact on global poverty than the provision of safe water.

● Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon. Many adults carry up to five gallons of water per trip. It means that they carry over forty pounds of water for miles.

● Between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise. Access to 20-25 litres per person per day represents a minimum, but this amount raises health concerns because it is insufficient to meet basic hygiene and consumption requirements.

● Most of the people categorized as lacking access to clean water use about 5 litres a day-one tenth of the average daily amount used in rich countries to flush toilets.

● Drinking water coverage increased from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 20107.

Social Disparities

● As of 2010, 84% of the world population without an improved drinking-water source lives in rural areas.

● In most developing countries 30-60% of rural water systems are inoperative at any given time.

● Rural women are responsible for water collection in almost two-thirds of households in developing countries.

● In developing countries, it is estimated that women spend a combined total of at least 16 million hours each day collecting drinking water; men spend 6 million hours; and children, 4 million hours.

● A return journey to collect water takes on average 25 minutes, and 3.9 trips per day are made by each household. Thus an average household spends 1 hour and 40 minutes each day collecting water.

● Use of improved water sources is correlated with wealth. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90 per cent of the richest fifth of the population use improved water sources, while only 35 per cent of thepoorest fifth of the population do.

● People living in the slums of Jakarta, Manila and Nairobi pay 5 to 10 times more for water than those living in high-income areas in those same cities and more than consumers in London or New York.


● Safe drinking water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21%

● Roughly half the hospital beds in the developing world are filled with people suffering from water related illnesses.

● Diarrhoea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

● Diarrhoeal disease alone amounts to an estimated 11% of the Global distribution of deaths among children under age 5 in 201017 (13% in Africa region)

● 94% of diarrhoea cases are preventable.





● The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) monitors progress towards the MDG target to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The JMP publishes a report every two years which presents an update on the progress made towards reaching the MDG target for drinking water and sanitation using proxy indicators for use of improved drinking-water sources and the use of improved sanitation facilities. The estimates for the use of drinking-water supply originate from data collected by national statistics offices and international survey programmes through nationally representative household surveys and national censuses

● UNICEF. UNICEF has a specialized statistical website ( http :// www . childinfo . org / ) where some of the latest data on women and children can be found. Country profiles, regional profiles, graphics - using google tools – are available. UNICEF supports countries to collect data through the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) programme. They also get their data from National Sample Survey, demographic and health survey; district level servey… There is no regularly published survey.

● The Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) is produced every two years by the World Health Organization (WHO) on behalf of UN-Water. It monitors the inputs required to extend and sustain water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems and services. The 2012 report presents data received from 74 developing countries (through the 2011 GLAAS country survey) covering all the Millennium Development Goal regions, and from 24 external support agencies, representing approximately 90% of official development assistance for sanitation and drinking-water.

● World Water Development Report (WWDR) is coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) on behalf of UN-Water and published every three years. It provides a global strategic outlook on the state of freshwater resources, trends in use of the resource base in the various sectors (inter alia, agriculture, industry, energy) and management options in different settings and situations. It also includes regional assessments.

● UNDP MDG Reports. National, regional and global annual reports based on data provided by a large number of international organizations within and outside the United Nations system. The aggregate figures in the report provide an overview of regional progress under the eight MDG goals and are a convenient way to track advances over time. The report is coordinated and published by the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

● UNDP. Human Development Report is an annual milestone publication. It was first launched in 1990. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): The 2010 Report featured a new multidimensional poverty measure that complements income-based poverty assessments by looking at multiple factors at the household level, from basic living standards to access to schooling, clean water and health care.

By Elisa Dehove for the Water Youth Movement



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