Backstory: Tapping the world

Wednesday is World Water Day. Essential for life - and key to global politics and economies - clean water is an extremely scarce resource in much of the world. Here's a glimpse at global patterns of water access, value, and consumption.

Access to Water

• 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, including 42 percent of all sub-Saharan Africans.

• As of 2005, 4,700 people died on average every day - mostly children under the age of 5 - due to lack of potable water.

• The cost of a household connection to water pipes can be five times greater than the per capita income in Benin, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mauritania, and Uganda.

• Households without plumbing spend on average 90 minutes every day hauling water for family needs. The average American tap delivers the same amount of water in two minutes.

• Women are usually responsible for fetching water when households in the undeveloped world lack plumbing. On average, they carry about 45 pounds of water at a time.

Water Use

• 30 to 50 liters of clean water is considered the basic daily need ofeveryhuman for drinking, cooking, and sanitation.

• Africans consume 37 liters of water a day on average; Americans consume 420 liters a day.

• Humans consume 950 trillion gallons of water annually - 70 percent of that is used for agriculture.

• Americans - who comprise less than 5 percent of the world population - consumed 15 percent of the total amount of water used in the world in 2000.

• Water use increased at more than twice the rate of world population growth in the 20th century.

Bottled water

• Global sales of bottled water last year reached $100 billion. By contrast, only $10 billion a year would be required to meet the UN goal of providing safe drinking water by 2015 to half of the 1.1 billion people who now lack it.

• 1.5 million barrels of crude oil are required to produce the 2.7 million tons of plastic used to bottle water annually.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Backstory: Tapping the world
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today