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MEETING BASIC NEEDS

To ensure our basic needs, we all need 20 to 50 litres of water free from harmful contaminants each and every day. In addition, a child born in the developed world consumes 30 to 50 times as much water as one in the developing world. The state of human health is inextricably linked to a range of water-related conditions: safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, minimized burden of water-related disease and healthy freshwater ecosystems. Urgent improvements in the ways in which water use and sanitation are managed are needed to improve progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to human health.

Targets

UN Millennium Development Goal (2000):
'Reduce by half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.'

World Summit on Sustainable Development, Plan of Implementation (2002):
'... we agree to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water (as outlined in the Millennium Declaration) and the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation.'

Water supply, distribution of unserved populations

Sanitation, distribution of unserved populations

Water supply, distribution of unserved populations, figure extracted from the WWDR Sanitation, distribution of unserved populations, figure extracted from the WWDR
Asia shows the highest number of people unserved by either water supply or sanitation; yet it is important to note that proportionally, this group is bigger in Africa because of the difference of population size between the two continents.
Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, (2002), extracted from WWDR1, 'Water for People, Water for Life' (UNESCO-WWAP, 2003)

 

Water and health

GLOSSARY

Malaria: Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It was once thought that the disease came from fetid marshes, hence the name mal aria, (bad air). The real cause of malaria is a one-cell parasite called plasmodium. The parasite is transmitted from person to person through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.

Schistosomiasis: a parasitic disease caused by a worm that is often found in irrigation ditches and still river water. The water becomes contaminated by Schistosoma eggs when infected people urinate or defecate in the water. The parasites then develop inside snails before re-entering the water where they can penetrate the skin of persons they come in contact with.

Disability adjusted life years (DALY): DALYs for a disease are the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality in the population and the years lost due to disability for incident cases of the health condition. One DALY represents the loss of one year of equivalent full health.

Globally, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria accounted for, respectively, 4% and 3% of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost, and 1.8 and 1.3 million deaths in 2002. This burden is almost entirely limited to the under-five age group.

Diarrhoeal diseases
   - Every day, diarrhoeal diseases cause some 6,000 deaths, mostly among children under five.
   - In 2001, 1.96 million people died from infectious diarrhoeas; 1.3 million were children under five.
   - Between 1,085,000 and 2,187,000 deaths due to diarrhoeal diseases can be attributed to the 'water, sanitation and hygiene' risk factor, 90 percent of them among children under five.
   - With simple hygiene measures such as washing hands after using the toilet or before preparing food, most of these deaths are preventable.

Malaria
   - Over 1 million people die from malaria every year.
   - About 90% of the annual global rate of deaths from malaria occur in Africa south of the Sahara.
   - Malaria causes at least 300 million cases of acute illness each year.
   - Mortality due to malaria increased by 27% between 1990 and 2002, going from 926,000 people to 1,272,000.
   - The disease costs Africa more than US$12 million annually and slows economic growth in African countries by 1.3% a year.
   - Sleeping under mosquito nets would be one simple but effective way to prevent many cases of malaria, especially for children under five.

Africa accounts for 97% of the world's burden of onchorocerciasis (a parasitic infection), 88% of the world's burden of malaria, 78% of its schistosomiasis burden, and 52% of its trachoma burden.

Schistosomiasis (bilharziasis)
   - More than 200 million people worldwide are infected by schistosomiasis.
   - 88 million children under fifteen years are infected each year with schistosomes.
   - 80% of transmission takes place in Africa south of the Sahara.

In Bangladesh alone, more than 4 million tubewells have been installed over the past twenty years to provide safe drinking water to 95% of the population. However, high concentrations of arsenic found in tubewell water provoked the largest mass arsenic poisoning in history.

South-East Asia accounts for 62% of the world's burden of dengue, and 56% of its burden of lymphatic filariasis.

An estimated 119 million people are infected with lymphatic filariasis globally, 40 million of whom suffer from the chronic form of the disease.

Africa accounts for 97% of the world's burden of onchorocerciasis (a parasitic infection), 88% of the world's burden of malaria, 78% of its schistosomiasis burden, and 52% of of its trachoma burden.

Coverage with improved drinking sources, 2002
Source: World Health Report (WHO, 2004) in WWDR2, 'Water, a shared responsibility' (UNESCO-WWAP, 2006)

 

Water and sanitation

1 billion people lack access to improved water supply

It is estimated that globally, we are on schedule to achieve the drinking water Millennium Development Goal, but the corresponding sanitation target will not be met by 2015 without much extra input and effort. If the 1990-2002 trend continues, it is thought that some 2.4 billion people will be without improved sanitation in 2015 - almost as many as are without today.

2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation

In sub-Saharan Africa, trends observed since 1990 indicate that neither the sanitation nor the drinking water target will be met by 2015.

Global sanitation coverage rose from 49% in 1990 to 58% in 2002.

Access to piped water through household connections
   - Latin America and the Caribbean: 66%
   - Asia: 49%
   - Africa: 24%

Access to sanitation linked to a sewage system:
   - Latin America and the Caribbean: 66%
   - Asia: 18%
   - Africa: 13%

Coverage with improved sanitation, 2002
Source: World Health Report (WHO, 2004) in WWDR2, 'Water, a shared responsibility' (UNESCO-WWAP, 2006)

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