Water Scarcity - The Facts


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The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.

Living in a country where water is plentiful, it’s easy to forget the hardships faced by many people all over the world who are not so fortunate.

Water scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region. About 2.8 billion people around the world, on every continent, are affected for at least one month out of every year.

The facts:

  • 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home.

  • One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty.

  • More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.

  • Globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas.

  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises.

  • Over 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

  • For the 68.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.

  • Around 159 million people collect their drinking water from surface water, such as ponds and streams.

  • Around 4 billion people - nearly two-thirds of the world’s population - experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.

  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.

  • The wealthier generally receive high levels of WASH services at (often very) low cost, whereas the poor pay a much higher price for a service of similar or lesser quality.

 

Resources:

WHO/UNICEF (2017) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/jmp-2017/en/
UNICEF (2018) WASH in Schools: Global baseline report 2018: https://data.unicef.org/resources/wash-in-schools/

Calculation made in 2018 based on data from UNICEF: https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-health/diarrhoeal-disease/
WHO (2017) Safely managed drinking water - thematic report on drinking water 2017: https://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ safely-managed-drinking-water-JMP-2017-1.pdf
WHO/UNICEF (2017) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/jmp-2017/en/
UNICEF: https://data.unicef.org/topic/maternal-health/maternal-mortality/
UNHCR (2017) Global Trends Report: Forced Displacement in 2017: https://www.unhcr.org/5b27be547.pdf
WWAP (UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme)/UN-Water (2019) The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind
WHO/UNICEF (2017) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/jmp2017/en/
Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2016), Four billion people facing severe water scarcity. Science Advanced, Vol. 2, No. 2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26933676
Global Water Institute (2013) Future water (in)security: facts, figures and predictions: https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/27b53d18-6069-45f7-a1bd-d5a48bc80322/downloads/1c2meuvon_105010.pdf
WWAP (UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme)/UN-Water (2019) The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind