Millions Look to Global Freshwater Export
water puts millions at risk for fatal illnesses
Many countries lack clean supply, study finds
Environmental News Service
As many as 76 million people, mostly children in developing
countries, could die from preventable water-related illnesses
by 2020 if countries don't rethink water delivery systems,
a new study by an Oakland environmental research institute
blamed governments in developing countries as well as
the United States for failing to provide accessible, affordable
methods of delivering clean drinking water to the world's
are appalling, actually, although the worldwide water
community shouldn't be that much surprised," said lead
author Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute.
estimate 2 million to 5 million people every year die
from water- related disease. Victims typically are "the
world's poorest people, who don't get a lot of attention,"
called "Dirty Water," concluded that development efforts
have invested mostly in centralized water delivery systems
that are far too large to be managed properly by small
spent the money on the big systems, and it hasn't worked,"
the United Nations set a goal of reducing by half the
proportion of people without access to clean drinking
water. The report concludes that even if that goal is
met, however, 34 million to 76 million people -- up to
twice California's population -- will still die from a
water-related illness in the next two decades.
the deaths will come from diarrheal diseases related to
sewage infiltrating drinking and bathing sources, fatal
worms, dysentery and cholera.
called the water issue a "hidden tragedy" and "one of
the greatest development failures of the 20th century."
in the field wasn't surprised at the study's alarming
pointed out clearly that we don't have enough information
to make definitive projections, and even at the lower-range
projections the mortality is simply unacceptable," said
Kara L. Nelson, assistant professor of civil and environmental
engineering at UC Berkeley. "I would venture their low
estimates are very low."
said even in large cities, only a small fraction of the
population is served by centralized water delivery systems.