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article imageWHO: One-fourth of world's population drinking contaminated water

By Karen Graham     Apr 13, 2017 in Health
Over 2 billion people, one-fourth of the world's population, are drinking fecal-contaminated water, according to a new report released today by the World Health Organization.
In its news release issued on Thursday, the WHO chides the world's nations, saying not enough money is being spent fast enough to meet water and sanitation targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dramatic improvements are needed in giving people access to clean drinking water, with WHO warning that over 2.0 billion people, that's one out of every four, are currently using and ingesting fecal-contaminated drinking water, reports CTV News Canada.
The New River flows at 200 cf s as it enters Imperial County  Southern California (United States) fr...
The New River flows at 200 cf s as it enters Imperial County, Southern California (United States) from Baja California state (México). The water at this point is three colors: dark green, white (foam), and milky brown/green. The septic stench is pungent, particularly during the summer season when temperatures can reach up to 120º (48ºC).
Calexico New River Committee (CNRC)
Maria Neira, who head's WHO's public health department, said in a statement, "Today, almost two billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio." Hundreds of thousands of people die each year, many of them children because they are forced to drink contaminated water.
"Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrheal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma," she added.
In Beit Lahia  northern Gaza  pools of sewage water pictured in February
In Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, pools of sewage water pictured in February
Funding gap puts a quarter of world population at risk
The UN General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. The goals included a series of targets for eliminating poverty and boosting human wellbeing - as well as vowing to ensure universal access to safe and affordable water and sanitation by 2030, according to Deutsche Welle.
But the latest WHO report called the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water, or GLAAS, says nations are falling far short of the goals set forth in the 2030 agenda and need to radically increase their investments.
Athletes competing in water sports will have to contend with human feces.
Athletes competing in water sports will have to contend with human feces.
Walter Brandimarte
According to the report: "A large financing gap has been identified as one of the greatest barriers to achieving these targets. To meet Targets 6.1 and 6.2, capital financing would need to triple to US$ 114 billion per annum." As the report points out, aspirations are reality are creating a great divide.
Fully 80 percent of countries are acknowledging their investments in GLAAS are not enough to meet the goals. "In many developing countries, current national coverage targets are based on achieving access to basic infrastructure, which may not always provide continuously safe and reliable services," the WHO warned in a statement.
"This is a challenge we have the ability to solve," says Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water and Director-General of the International Labor Organization. "Increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and make sure that we leave no one behind."
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