UNESCO Report Says Billions are Deprived of Water

UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. (Image ©UNESCO/Ignatio Marin)

Access to water and sanitation is internationally recognized human right. Yet more than two billion people lack even the most basic of services. The latest United Nations World Water Development Report, Leaving No One Behind, explores the symptoms of exclusion and investigates ways to overcome inequalities. The report was launched in Geneva, Switzerland on Mar. 19 during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, ahead of World Water Day on Mar. 22.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right” and in 2015 the human right to sanitation was explicitly recognized as a distinct right. These rights oblige states to work toward achieving universal access to water and sanitation for all, without discrimination, while prioritizing those most in need. Five years later, Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to guarantee sustainable management of, and access to, water and sanitation for all by 2030.

On a global scale, half of the people who drink water from unsafe sources live in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 24% of the population have access to safe drinking water, and 28% have basic sanitation facilities that are not shared with other households.

Refugees and internally displaced people often face severe barriers to the access of water supply and sanitation services and their numbers are higher than ever before. In 2017, conflicts and persecution forced 68.5 million people to flee their homes. Moreover, an annual average of 25.3 million people are forced to migrate because of natural disasters, twice as many as in the early 1970s—a number expected to rise further due to climate change.

Learn more about the report at UNESCO.

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