13 May 2003

Nigeria: More Than 1bn Do Not Have Access to Drinking Water

At least 1.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, out of a world population of six billion people, according to UN Development Programme.

A report compiled by 'CHOICES', a UNDP quarterly magazine, focusing on water situation in developing countries, states that more than 2.4 billion people lack proper sanitation facilities.

According to the report, more than 2.2 million people, primarily in developing countries, die each year from diseases caused by polluted water and filthy sanitary conditions.

"Everyday, diarrhoeal diseases cause some 6,000 deaths, mostly among children under five. Also, more than 200 tonnes of human waste are dumped daily into the world's rivers, the report notes.

It states that while water covers 70 per cent of the earth's surface, 97.5 per cent is salt water, the remaining water is fresh, while three quarters of that is frozen in ice caps.

"By the year 2025, nearly two-thirds of the world's population will live in water stressed regions, while in the next two decades, water used by humans will increase by 40 per cent and 17 per cent more water will be needed to feed increasing populations in developing countries," it says.

The report also notes that in the last 30 years, the share of rural families with access to safe water rose from 10 per cent to about 60 per cent.

"At present, 70 per cent of all available fresh water is used for agriculture, but because of inefficient irrigation systems, 60 per cent of this water is lost," the report stated.

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