Unsafe Water Kills More People than War: Study

A new study commissioned by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) demonstrates that unclean water for drinking as well as for sanitation services is responsible for more deaths than all forms of violence, including war.

“These deaths are an affront to our common humanity, and undermine the efforts of many countries to achieve their development potential,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today, World Water Day.

There are two primary challenges surrounding water: quantity and quality. The study titled “Clearing the Water: A Focus on Water Quality Solutions” plunges into the latter challenge as fulfilling cleaner water standards is currently the more achievable goal.

“The fact is that, often as a result of mismanagement, much of the water that is available in developing but also developed economies is polluted and contaminated to varying levels.” ~ Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director

There are three major goals for the movement and supported by the report:

  • Focus on pollution prevention
  • Expand and improve water and waste-water treatment
  • Restore, manage, and protect ecosystems

The comprehensive report, 91-pages in all, goes beyond suggestions and assumptions often associated with these types of studies. With 7 authors, an editor, and over 100 reference sources, the focus is on establishing solutions by highlighting the problems and offering alternatives to current practices.

Here are some quick facts from the report:

  • 2 million tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are dumped daily
  • 1 child under the 5-years-old dies every 20 seconds from water-related diseases
  • $20 million worth of water technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps, could lift 100 million farming families out of extreme poverty
  • Over 50% of treated water is lost to leaks
  • 900 million people around the world do not have access to clean water
  • 2.7 billion others lack sanitation facilities

Download the entire 91-page document, Clearing the Water: A Focus on Water Quality Solutions.

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