U.S. Water News Online
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. -- Millions of the world's poorest
people survive on less than a fifth of the water they need, the
United Nations says. The UN says guaranteeing proper water supplies
is vital to eradicating poverty.
It believes the problem is worst in Africa, which also needs huge
quantities of water for agriculture. While the world population
tripled in the last century, the use of renewable water resources
The warning comes in a report written by a Dutch adviser to UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The adviser, the Prince of Orange,
prepared the report, No Water, No Future, for a conference
being held this week in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
Annan says: "The world is in a water crisis, with the problem
perhaps most acute in Africa. Globally, more than one billion people
do not have access to safe drinking water, and half of the world's
population lacks adequate sanitation. More than 2m people die
annually from water-related diseases."
The UN says the absolute daily minimum amount of water a person
needs is 13.2 gallons -- five litres for drinking, 20 for sanitation
and hygiene, 15 for bathing and 10 for preparing food.
Millions of people try to exist on 2.6 gallons. They live in
Gambia, Haiti, Djibouti, Somalia, Mali, Cambodia, Mozambique, Uganda,
Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Albania and Bhutan. In 27 more countries
people try to manage on a daily average of eight gallons or less.
The Prince says people need water to grow food as well as for
their own use. Agriculture accounts for about 35 percent of Africa's
gross national product, 40 percent of its exports, and 70 percent of
He says, "No single type of intervention has had greater overall
impact upon economic development and public health than the provision
of safe drinking water and proper sanitation. They can reduce the
morbidity and mortality rates of some of the most serious
water-related diseases by up to 80 percent."
The Prince says the world must reach three targets:
The Prince hopes one way of helping to reach these goals will be
the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the brainchild
of the Organisation of African States (OAU).
Known as "a Marshall Plan for Africa", Nepad aims to commit the
continent's leaders to working for development, establishing good
governance, and avoiding conflict. Nepad's supporters say a program
to promote co-operation among 10 nations in the Nile basin has been
producing good results, and could serve as an example to the rest of
Yet more than 200 million Africans are chronically undernourished,
life expectancy is only 54 years, and malaria is now killing 900,000
people annually across the continent.
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