Access to clean drinking water is a human right since 2010, but where are we now?

Access to clean water and sanitary facilities is the sixth point on the list of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which were drafted by the United Nations in 2015. These SDGs should ensure that the world in 2030 is a fair, healthy and safe place to live for everyone. But what is the current state of access to clean drinking water in the world?

CLEAN WATER A HUMAN RIGHT SINCE 2010

Access to clean drinking water is first and foremost the basis for a healthy life. Drinking from polluted water sources leads to diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera, which is still one of the most common causes of death among children in developing countries.

But access to clean drinking water is also the basis for a productive life. Especially women and children are victims of the lack of clean drinking water, since they are usually assigned the task of fetching water. Not seldom is the nearest water source kilometers away, making water collection a day job. This way, these women and children are deprived of the opportunity to work or go to school. In 2010, access to clean water and sanitation was therefore recognized as human rights by the United Nations and included in 2015 in the SDGs.

Worldwide, at least 2 billion people use a water source that has been contaminated with bacteria.

World Health Organization

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS: FACTS AND FIGURES

This objective within the SDGS states that everyone has the right to continuous, adequate and physically accessible, safe and affordable water for both personal and domestic use. The current state of affairs however, shows that there is still a lot to be achieved:

  • In 2015, 71% of the world’s population (5.2 billion people) used a safely managed drinking water service, i.e. a drinking water service located in the immediate vicinity, available when needed and free from contamination.
  • 89% of the world’s population (6.5 billion people) used at least a basic service. A basic service is an improved drinking water source, which is reachable within 30 minutes (return) to collect water.
  • Worldwide, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source that has been contaminated.
  • 844 million people lack an elementary drinking water supply, including 159 million people who rely on surface water.
  • Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 502,000 deaths every year due to diarrhoea, especially among children.

CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE

That achieving this objective is a major challenge, may be clear. But developments such as increasing drought due to climate change, increasing population growth and other demographic changes pose an additional challenge. The WHO even states that by 2025, half of the world’s population will live in areas with permanent water scarcity. In the future, innovations around rainwater collection and waste water reuse are therefore desperately needed to cope with these challenges.

Source: World Health Organization / https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water

Foto Margreet Noordhoff

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