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Global safe drinking water goal achieved

Borehole water supply, Nigeria
Mike Urban,

Amid all the dire reports that seem to indicate the world is going to heck in a handbasket, here’s some good news:

The United Nations children’s agency, otherwise known as UNICEF, reports that 89 percent of the world’s population now has access to safe drinking water. As the Washington Post said:

The water target was one of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals to reduce global poverty that government leaders, nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations have been working to achieve, with varying success.

This is cause for celebration, The Guardian notes, yet this milestone should not deflect attention from the fact that many hundreds of millions more — nearly a billion people — still lack access to clean and safe drinking. And, as also noted by The Guardian, about 2.5 billion don’t have proper sanitation which puts them at risk of many diseases and of contaminating their local water resources.

It should be noted that much of the progress achieved over the past decade has been due to improved living conditions in China and India, and that many parts of the world are still in desperate need of safe water and sanitation. Reuters quotes the head of the UN:

“Some regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, are lagging behind,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the report. “Many rural dwellers and the poor often miss out on improvements to drinking water and sanitation. Reducing these disparities must be a priority.”


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.