Saturday, March 10, 2012

Are more people getting safe drinking water?

The UN claims early success in achieving global target but prevailing challenges point to a possible overestimation.

The UN announced that the international target to cut the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water by half, has been met five years before the 2015 deadline.

The report issued on Tuesday by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources such as piped supplies and protected wells.

It estimated that by the end of 2010 more than six billion people – around 89 per cent of the world's population – had access to safe water.

That is one per cent more than the 88 per cent target set out in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) number seven, set in 2000.

The report also highlights the immense challenges that remain regarding the drinking water target. Global figures show massive disparities between regions and countries, and within individual nations.

For instance, 11 per cent of the world population, or about 783 million people, still have no access to improved drinking water.

There also are huge regional disparities with four out of 10 people without access to safe water living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Almost half of the two billion people who gained access to drinking water since 1990 live in China or India.

Another disparity is the number of people in rural areas using unimproved water sources, which is five times greater than in urban areas.

And, eight out of 10 people living in urban areas have piped water connections on their premises, compared to only three in 10 people in rural areas.

Finally the UNICEF-WHO joint monitoring program also warned that the data collected does not assess the quality, or reliability of the water supply, or whether water sources were sustainable.

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