Access to water

Unequal distribution of the world's water resources

Water is an essential element for all life on earth and is the subject of much debate on its consumption, governance, conflicts of use, access and management methods.

The world's water resources accessible to humans are limited: freshwater accounts for 2.8% of resources, 70% of which is stored in a solid state; the rest is found in groundwater or underground basins and in lakes, rivers and natural reservoirs (i.e. 0.3% of available freshwater). In the end, man can only use less than 1% of the total volume of freshwater present on Earth, i.e. about 0.028% of the hydrosphere.

Resources are unevenly distributed between countries. One third of the world's population lacks access to safe water. 1.1 billion people in 80 countries do not have access to safe water, which hinders development. In Cambodia, Chad, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Afghanistan and Oman, less than 40% of the population has access to safe water. On the other hand, other countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Malta, Libya, Singapore, Jordan, Israel and Cyprus have extremely low resources.
(Source: IWAC)

Access to water as a catalyst for progress and human development

Water is a powerful vector for human development and social organization. Without access to drinking water, no economic development is viable, but even more so, access to water depends on access to health, education and women's autonomy. Drinking water is a universal instrument in the fight against poverty. Access to essential services is therefore a priority for the development of the countries of Africa and the Middle East and, in the context of worrying climate change, must be brought to the highest level of the international agenda.

No access to water for all without strong international political commitment

The international community has committed itself to access to water and sanitation through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which involve halving the proportion of the world's population without access to safe drinking water. These commitments outlined new rights for populations, which are essential for economic and social progress and sustainable development of the planet. Although all the objectives have not been achieved, enormous progress has been made in the field of access to water, mainly in rural areas, even if we consider that today 3 to 4 billion people still do not have access to clean water, i.e. half of humanity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs) that succeeded the Millennium Goals in September 2015 will of course have to continue the efforts that have been made. This new roadmap for 2015-2030 is much more ambitious than the previous one and concerns both developed and developing countries. One of the major goals is dedicated to water and sanitation.


* Nearly 800 million people do not have access to an improved water source and almost a third of the world's population drinks water that endangers their health.

* 4,400 children (1.8 million per year) die every day because of dirty water or poor hygiene conditions.

* 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation.

* 800 million people are undernourished.

* The costs resulting from the lack of access to safe water amount to 170 billion dollars, or 2.6% of the GDP of the so-called "developing" countries.

* An estimated 443 million days of schooling are lost each year as a result of this problem.

* The average consumption of an American represents 600 litres of water/day, 150 litres/day for a European against 10 litres/day for an African.