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One in every three people consuming unsafe water

By Hillary Orinde | June 19th 2019
Oblivious of the hazard, a boy drinks water from Oinobsos River in Baringo County in 2016. More than two billion people, including children, don't have access to safe drinking water. [File, Standard]

Do you have drinking water that is free from contamination and available when needed? Does it take you less than thirty minutes to collect water from a protected source?

If not, you are part of the one-in-three people globally that do not have access to safe drinking water according to a joint report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

The report released Tuesday, notes that billions are suffering from poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene, including 2.2 billion people who do not have safe drinking water.

It added, more than half of the global population at 4.2 billion do not have safely-managed sanitation services and a further three billion lack basic hand-washing facilities.

Improved access

The research shows that 1.8 billion people have been given access to basic drinking water since 2000, but for many, availability and quality of water is limited.

It further estimates that 1 in 10 people (785 million) still lack basic services, including the 144 million who drink untreated surface water.

Over four billion people are also living without safe toilets or properly managed sewage. With another three billion not able to wash their hands with soap.

The disparity gap is so huge that data from the report showed eight in ten people living in rural areas lacked access to these services.

“Mere access is not enough. If the water isn’t clean, isn’t safe to drink or is far away, and if toilet access is unsafe or limited, then we’re not delivering for the world’s children,” says Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF. 

She adds that children and their families in poor and rural communities are most at risk of being left behind as the gap in disparity widens.

The UNICEF boss is imploring governments to close the inequality gaps, saying, “to relent on investment plans for universal coverage is to undermine decades worth of progress at the expense of coming generations”.

The UN report notes nearly three-quarters of the population of the Least Developed Countries did not have basic handwashing facilities.

Did you know

Murang’a county is the home to the Thika Dam, also known as Ndakaini dam, which supplies 83 per cent of the water used in the Nairobi?

Inhabitants of Nairobi slums pay more for water than their rich neighbours?  Data shows that slum dwellers pay Sh100 per cubic metre while customers of the Nairobi Water Company pay Sh29.4 per cubic metre.

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