2.1 Billion Lack Safe Water Access: WHO Report

2.1 Billion Lack Safe Water Access: WHO Report

Zoe Zuidema
drinking water Access

Rabat – A report by WHO and UNICEF shows that 2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home and 4.5 billion lack safely managed sanitation.

While billions of people have gained access to drinking water and sanitation services in the last twenty years, WHO’s report shows that safe water and sanitation is not necessarily guaranteed, especially in rural areas.

Large populations are put at risk when homes, health facilities, and schools lack soap and water for hand washing. As a result, 361,000 children under 5 years old die every year of diarrhea.

“Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban centers,” says WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”

In response to health and safety risks like these, Morocco’s water industry has recently boosted investments in safe drinking water.

The African Development Bank, a main donor to Morocco’s water industry, has recently invested EUR 300 million to improve water supply and distribution. As a consequence, there has been a large increase in rural access to clean water and roughly five million people have an improved water quality.

Globally, however, 844 million people do not yet have a basic drinking water service: an estimated 159 million drink untreated water from streams or lakes, sources known to severely spread disease. WHO states that “good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease.”

For the first time, global health watchdogs are monitoring the percentage of people with hand washing facilities; access to soap and water varies greatly, from 15 percent of the sub-Saharan Africa population to 76 percent in western Asia and northern Africa.

Efforts to increase widespread access to safe water and sanitation facilities remain a global concern. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for water supply, sanitation and hygiene continues to monitor both regional and global progress, with the goals of attaining universal access to drinking water and sanitation.

By drawing connections between use of basic facilities and quality of life, international organizations strive to make policy decisions and resource allocations that provide equitable access to the resources much of the world already consumes.

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