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STATISTICS OF THE WATER CRISIS: 783 million people do not have access to clean water

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Mills Realty helps eliminate water problems with the sustainable purchase program

783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide

 That is 1 in 10 people worldwide. Or, twice the population of the United States. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Not only does walking for water keep kids out of school or take up time that parents could be used to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick. But access to clean water means education, income, and health – especially for women and kids.



  • 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide.
  • 319 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are without access to improved reliable drinking water sources
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is among the regions with the greatest drinking water spending needs, with the greatest investment needs in rural areas.
  • Two-thirds or about 102 million of the 159 million people still using surface water live in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 1 in 9 people world wide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.
  • 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
  • In developing countries, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.
  • 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are without improved sanitation facilities.
  • 695 million of a global 2.4 billion people living without improved sanitation facilities live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Exposure to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene is a leading cause of cholera and a variety of infectious and tropical diseases in the African Region.
  • Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.
  • Of Sub-Saharan healthcare facilities, 42% lack an improved water source within 500m, 16% lack improved sanitation, and 36% lack soap for hand washing.
  • Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys to be the family member responsible for fetching water.
  • The physical and time burden of water hauling was found to fall primarily on women and girls who make up 72% of those tasked with fetching water.
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in seven out of ten households in 45 developing countries.
  • Over half of the developing world’s primary schools don’t have access to water and sanitation facilities. Without toilets, girls often drop out at puberty.
  • Less than one in three people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to a proper toilet.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, in the 38 countries for which data is available, hand washing prevalence is at best 50%.
  • 84% of the people who don’t have access to improved water live in rural areas, where they live principally through subsistence agriculture.
  • The average container for water collection in Africa, the jerry can, weighs over 40 lbs when full.
  • Almost two-thirds, 64% of households rely on women to get the family’s water when there is no water source in the home.
  • Globally we use 70% of our water sources for agriculture and irrigation and only 10% on domestic uses.
  • Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease.
  • According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34!
  • By investing in clean water alone, young children around the world can gain more than 413 million days of health!
  • The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; the same as an entire year’s labor in all of France!
  • Research has shown that for every 10% increase in women’s literacy, a country’s whole economy can grow by up to 0.3%.




  1. AQUASTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Water Use.”
  2. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2010.” Available at
  3. UNICEF. “Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene” Updated May 2010.
  4. United Nations Development Programme. “Human Development Report 2006: Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis.” 2006. Available at
  5. United Nations. Statement by Secretary General Koffi Annan. June 2003.
  6. WHO/UNICEF. “Diarrhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done.” 2009. available at
  7. World Health Organization. “Costs and benefits of water and sanitation improvements at the global level.”
  8. UNEP / UN-Habitat “Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development. Available at
  9. Jerry cans carry approx. 5 gallons of water so if a single gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, 5 gallons are 41.5 pounds.
  10. United Nations Development Programme. “Resource Guide on Gender and Climate Change.” 2009. Available at
  11. UNICEF. “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” Updated May 2010.
  12. World Health Organization. Executive Summary of “Costs and benefits of water and sanitation improvements at the global level.”
  13. Based on 87% of the global population using imprtoved sources. Found in WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2010.” Available at
  14. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation “2015 Report and MDG Assessment” Available from:
  15. World Health Organization “WHO in the African Region” Available from:
  16. World Health Organization “Key Facts from 2015 JMP Report” Available from:
  17. World Health Organization “Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach MDG target and universal coverage” Available from:

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About The Author
Edward Winfrey

Edward S. Winfrey is the Founder/CMO of Nikindi Business Solutions (NBS Global). NBS Global is a marketing Consulting firm located in Chicago Illinois. We at NBS Global specialize in everything in the marketing dimension. We conduct all marketing activities and also function as an external marketing department for some firms. An “external marketing department (EMD)” is when a consultant firm develops a marketing department for the purpose of establishing a marketing department to later turn the duties over to group of new internal employees who will become the primary MKT department once they are trained properly on the new activities, strategies and tactics that were designed and created my the consultant firm.