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Friday, 20 May 2011

One in six people have no access to clean water

Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental right, but it is not a fact in many parts of the world. Contaminated water causes 1.5 million deaths a year, 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation and one in six people does not have access to clean water. The ACP-EU meeting in Budapest 17 May called for comprehensive measures to alleviate the situation, including improving sanitation, conserving rainforests and punishing water polluters. In developing countries, 70% of industrial waste is dumped untreated into water,  polluting the usable water supply. Pollution is mainly caused by industry, agriculture and sewage, but the most common contaminant of drinking water is fecal matter. The impact of this is dramatic: according to UN statistics, every 20 seconds a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. "A good infrastructure for sanitation is the most important pre-requisite for health," said German Christian Democrat Christa Klass, one of the people who drafted the report on water for the meeting. But investing in networks and disposing of waste water is expensive and many African Caribbean and Pacific countries do not have the financial means. On the other hand, the increasing urbanisation in ACP countries makes investment in delivering clean water and processing waste urgent.

The Joint Assembly calls for:

  • more boreholes in villages and shanty towns with rising populations
  • innovative solutions, like chlorine tablets to combat epidemics including cholera, that are linked to polluted water
  • EU and ACP countries should prevent industry, deforestation, mining, chemical production and extensive use of pesticides from affecting water quality - polluters should pay.

Source: European Parliament