In March 2012, the WHO and UNICEF-led Joint Monitoring Program announced that, in achieving access to improved water sources for over 2 billion more people since 1990, the world has met the Millennium Development Goals drinking water target. However:
- • More than 1 in 10 people (783 million) still do not have access to safe drinking water.
- • Coverage in sub-Saharan Africa stands at only 61% - with further disparities in access between urban and rural populations in that region.
- • Almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
- • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in children under five years old.
- • WHO estimates that 50% of malnutrition is associated with repeated diarrhea or intestinal worm infections as a result of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.
- • In developing countries, drought is ranked as the most common cause of severe food shortages, causing more deaths than any other natural disaster over the last century.
Lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene undermines sustainable progress of virtually every other developmental need, including education, economic growth, nutrition, environmental conservation, and gender equality. Investing in water, sanitation, and hygiene has an immediate impact on health, education, and economic growth.