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Access to Safe Drinking Water around the World: Five Infographics


How many people use a source of drinking water protected from contamination?

Tom Slaymaker and Robert Bain, statistics and monitoring specialists at Unicef, have captured the essence of the global safe drinking water dilemma. What’s so startling?

  1. Billions of people have gained access to water, but huge inequalities remain.In 41 countries, a fifth of people drink water from an unprotected source.
  2. Collecting water is still a major burden, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Many people (mainly women and children) spend more than 30 minutes (or even more than hour) collecting water.
  3. In many parts of the world, water is not available all day, every day. Communities with municipal piped water often have interruptions that last for more than a few days.
  4. Some sources protect against contamination, but it still might be safe to drink the water. The main health concern is E.coli from fecal contamination, often because groundwater is contaminated by faulty latrines, or the containers people use to carry and store water have trace amounts of bacteria.
  5. People spend different amounts on water, but we don’t know what they think is affordable. We don’t know if paying for water and sanitation prevents people from getting access, or whether people think the amount the pay is affordable.

The full report is available for download at Unicef Data at https://data.unicef.org/resources/safely-managed-drinking-water/. The Guardian provides a concise overview at https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/mar/17/access-to-drinking-water-world-six-infographics.