Water-related Disease Facts
The Crisis of Unsafe Drinking Water
Each year more than five million people die from water-related disease .
The leading cause of child death in the world is diarrhea .
UNICEF estimates that in 1993 alone, 3.8 million children under the age of five died from diarrhea resulting from ingesting waterborne pathogens .
Of the 37 major diseases in developing countries, 21 are water and sanitation related .
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of all sickness in the world is attributable to unsafe water and sanitation .
WHO also estimates that each year, throughout the world, children under five suffer 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea, approximately four million of which are fatal .
If no action is taken to address unmet basic human needs for water, as many as 135 million people will die from water-related diseases by 2020.
Even if the explicit Millennium Goals announced by the United Nations in 2000 are achieved, between 34 and 76 million people will perish from water-related diseases by 2020.
No single type of intervention has greater overall impact upon the national development and public health than does the provision of safe drinking water and the proper disposal of human excreta .
Human health improvements are influenced not only by the use of clean water, but also by personal hygiene habits and the use of sanitation facilities .
Water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions have been shown to reduce sickness from diarrhea on average between a quarter and a third .
Six to nine million people are estimated to be blind from trachoma. The population at risk for this disease is 500 million. This disease can be reduced 25% by provision of adequate quantities of water .
In reducing the toll of sickness and death from diarrhea, the supply of adequate quantities of water is usually more important than improving its quality. This is because the organisms that cause diarrhea can be spread through many routes besides drinking water, and increased quantities of water can improve household and personal hygiene to prevent these .
About a third of the population of the developing world is infected with intestinal worms that can be controlled through better water, hygiene, and sanitation. These parasites can lead to malnutrition, anemia, and retarded growth .
200 million people in the world are infected with schistosomiasis, of whom 20 million suffer severe consequences. This disease can be reduced 77% from well designed water and sanitation interventions .
At any given time, half the people in developing countries are suffering from water-related diseases .
More people die each year from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.