A new WaterAid briefing, ‘Water:
At What Cost? The State of the World’s Water’,
released on the occasion of this year’s World Water Day, examines the most
difficult places in the world for people to get clean water and reveals how the
world’s poorest often pay far more of their income for water than those in the
WaterAid’s analysis shows that in the developed world, a
standard water bill is as little as 0.1% of the income of someone earning the
minimum wage. However in many developing countries, people reliant on a tanker
truck for their water supply could spend as much as 45% of their daily income
on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In some of the
world’s poorest countries, families relying on black-market vendors could spend
up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidised tap
Worldwide, some 650 million people in the world still do
not have access to clean water and more than 2.3 billion do not have access to
basic sanitation, with devastating results. Some 315,000 children under five
die each year of diarrhoeal diseases related to the lack of these basic rights.
And 50% of malnutrition cases are linked to chronic diarrhoea caused by lack of
clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene including handwashing with soap.
The briefing, which is WaterAid’s first ever ‘State of
the World’s Water’ report offers a snapshot of access to water around the world
in 2016. It also ranks nations based on rates of household access to water and
on highest populations without access to water, and includes a list of the
countries which have improved most in the last 15 years.
While Nigeria features 17 in the list of the top 20 most
improved countries for water access over the past 15 years, the African giant
is also one of the worst in the world for household water access and features
third in the world on a list of the top ten countries with the greatest numbers
of people living without access to safe water. This highlights just how much
overall progress can mask the stark inequality that still exists in much of the
developing world because even though much progress has been made in reaching a
huge population of the world with improved sources of drinking water, tens of
millions of people are still unserved with their basic human right to safe
water, even in countries that have made the most impressive progress.
the report’s other main findings:
China and Nigeria have the highest numbers of
people waiting for access to clean water
New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Angola are
the nations in the world with the lowest percentage of households with access
to clean water. In Papua New Guinea, an average person living in poverty would
spend 54% of their salary to access the World Health Organization-recommended
minimum 50 litres per person per day.
Mali, Laos and Ethiopia have made more progress
than any other nations on improving access to water for their populations.
Despite much progress, the
report finds that inequalities persist
even in nations that have made great strides, with the poorest often paying the
highest percentages of their income on water.
There remain 16 countries in the world where 40% or more
of their population do not have access to clean water – due to low government
prioritisation and dedicated funding, shortages in human resources, competition
for water resources and the exacerbating effects of climate change.
Dr. Michael Ojo WaterAid
Nigeria Country Representative said:
“On this World Water Day, it is shocking to
realise that a life essential such as water can cost a poor person in the
developing world as much as half of their income, for an amount that is about
one-third of average daily use in the developed world.
drinking water is a right yet an estimated 31% of people in Nigeriaare still living without access to clean water. Increased
competition for water resources and climate change are only exacerbating the
crisis, which along with lack of sanitation is responsible for the deaths of
more than 68,000 children under five each year in the country.
World Water Day, we call upon our government and leaders around the world to take
urgent action towards keeping the promises made in the UN Global Goals on
Sustainable Development, and ensure everyone is able to realise their right to
access to clean water by 2030.”
This year’s global theme for World Water Day ‘Water and
Jobs’ highlights how enough quantity and quality of water can change lives and
livelihoods - and even transform societies and economies. A lack of access to safe
water has numerous impacts on work and productivity in many ways. Almost half
of the world’s workers—1.5 billion people—work in water-related sectors and
nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery. Yet financing
and managing key jobs in the sector is a real struggle that makes it hard for
countries to maintain water and sanitation systems, and secure the urgent
progress required on Goal 6: universal access to clean and safe water and
sanitation by 2030.
queuing and carrying jerry cans wastes time and hinder productivity for many
girls and women. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women spend a combined total of at
least 16 million hours each day collecting drinking water. Businesses’
productivity is hit hard by staff absenteeism, turnover and low morale related
to lack of access to clean, safe water in workplaces.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are usually
considered beyond the remit of a lot of other sectors – a costly perception
which hinders progress in achieving overall developmental goals. The positive
impact of interventions in many areas is often undermined by lack of water,
sanitation and hygiene interventions.
WASH is an essential component of an integrated approach
to tackling poverty, hunger, health and inequality and it is essential that
WASH is prioritised. Improved water, sanitation and hygiene for all will make
sustainable progress across many of the Global Goals.
On this World Water Day, WaterAid is therefore reminding
governments that the promises of the UN Global Goals on Sustainable
Development, to eradicate extreme poverty and create a fairer, more sustainable
world, includes Goal 6 to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water and
access to safe, private toilets by 2030. This promise is achievable but it will
take a serious political shift and financing to get there.
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