Thursday, March 09, 2006

A global water crisis

We in the West tend to take it for granted, of course, but a new U.N. report concludes that "[a]lmost 20% of the world's population still lacks access to safe drinking water". The BBC reports here.

Other findings contained in the U.N. World Water Development Report:

  • Water quality is declining in most regions, affecting the diversity of freshwater species and ecosystems;
  • Poor water quality is a key cause of poverty. Around 3.1m people died in 2002 as a result of diarrhoeal diseases and malaria, 90% of whom were children;
  • The world will require 55% more food by 2030, increasing the demand for irrigation which already accounts for 70% of all freshwater used by humans;
  • Many places are "losing" 30-40% of water through leakage and illegal extraction; and
  • Political corruption is estimated to cost the water sector millions of dollars every year and undermines services.

Needless to say, this is a serious crisis.

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