10 Countries With The Worst Access To Drinking Water

10 Countries With The Worst Access To Drinking Water

More than a quarter of the world’s population – about 2.1 billion people – lack access to clean water, according to a report released this month by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.

The report, ‘Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2017′, presents indicators and baseline estimates for the drinking water, sanitation and hygiene targets within the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It also introduces the indicators of safely managed drinking water and sanitation services, which go beyond use of improved facilities, to include consideration of the quality of services provided.

One of the graphics included in the report ranked countries according to accessibility, availability and quality of drinking water. Heading the leader board were Singapore, San Marino, New Zealand, Monaco and Liechtenstein. Bring up the rear were Mexico, Congo, Pakistan, Bhutan, Ghana, Nepal, Cambodia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and – in last position – Uganda.

“Safely managed drinking water services represent an ambitious new global service norm that forms part of the new JMP ladder for enhanced global monitoring of household drinking water services,” said South African National Bottled Water Association Executive Director, Charlotte Metcalf.

“The JMP estimates that 5.2 billion people used safely managed drinking water services in 2015. National estimates were available for 96 countries, and the coverage in these countries ranged from 6% to 100% of the national population.

“According to the report, one in five countries (or 15 countries) below 95% coverage is on track to achieve universal basic water services by 2030. Progress is too slow in 68 countries for universal access by 2030 and, sadly, basic coverage is decreasing in 10 countries.

“The JMP only produces national estimates when data is available for at least 50% of the population. Unfortunately, there was inadequate data coming out of South Africa, and our country therefore did not feature in the report.

“However, we know that consistent and convenient access to safe drinking water is a major concern for many of South Africa’s citizens. Achieving this – and ensuring that our water sources are not exploited – must be a national priority for Government and the private sector,” she said.

SANBWA was formed in 1997. Its members’ primary concern is the health, safety and pleasure of their consumers. They therefore willingly conform to the extremely stringent safety and quality measures contained in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard2, which includes environmental stewardship1.

SANBWA’s environmental stewardship protocols address measures to ensure source sustainability and protection, water usage minimisation, energy efficiency, solid waste minimisation, and support post-consumer recycling initiatives.

As an organisation, SANBWA was among the first worldwide to require its members to follow specific recycling guidelines. In this respect, it was advised by PETCO in South Africa (the local plastic industry’s first joint effort to self-regulate post-consumer PET recycling).

It expects members to:
• only support PET bottle suppliers which contribute to the PETCO recycling levy.
• establish a drop-off centre for the public at the bottling facility and all distribution centres.
• add the ‘please recycle’ sign on all labels.
• use recycling friendly materials or recycling optimal materials as stipulated in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard and published on www.sanbwa.org.za/environ_pet.asp or on www.petco.co.za/ag3nt/media/set_999699/Petco_Design_Fact_Sheet.

“When tap water is unavailable or unsafe to consume, bottled water is the best packaged beverage option for the environment; it has the lightest environmental footprint of all packaged beverages — one that can be reduced by 25% if consumers were to simply recycle the bottle,” said Metcalf.

She also drew attention to the key messages with respect to drinking water coming from the analysis of 2015 data provided by 100 countries urging local policymakers, legislators and enforcers to learn from them:
• 71% of the global population (5.2 billion people) used a safely managed drinking water service; that is, one located on premises, available when needed and free from contamination.
• Estimates for safely managed drinking water were available for 96 countries (representing 35% of the global population), and for four out of eight SDG regions.
• One out of three people using safely managed drinking water services (1.9 billion) lived in rural areas.
• Eight out of 10 people (5.8 billion) used improved sources with water available when needed.
• Three quarters of the global population (5.4 billion) used improved sources located on premises.
• Three out of four people (5.4 billion) used improved sources free from contamination.
• 89% of the global population (6.5 billion people) used at least a basic service; that is, an improved source within 30 minutes’ round trip to collect water.
• 844 million people still lacked even a basic drinking water service.
• 263 million people spent over 30 minutes per round trip to collect water from an improved source (constituting a limited drinking water service).
• 159 million people still collected drinking water directly from surface water sources, 58% lived in sub-Saharan Africa.


1. http://who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/jmp-2017/en/
2. https://www.sanbwa.org.za/guidelines.asp
3. https://www.sanbwa.org.za/environment.asp

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