More Than 1 Billion People at Risk for Lack of Clean Water

More Than 1 Billion People at Risk for Lack of Clean Water

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This spring the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated the early completion the 2015 development goal of bringing improved drinking water to an additional two billion people since 1990. The feat was a landmark in securing what the U.N. General Assembly declared in 2010 was a universal human right: “access to safe and clean water.” In an effort to improve health and quality of life across the world between 1990 and 2015, the U.N. established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG). One of the sub targets was to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

And by early 2012 only approximately 800 million people around the globe still relied on “unimproved” water sources such as streams, ditches or unprotected wells, which are the most likely places for contaminated water. Pipes, boreholes and protected wells are much more likely to prevent contact with dangerous pathogens, chemicals or sewage runoff. But just because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink. In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been “improved” are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses.

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