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Water quality

According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, at least 1.8 billion people world-wide are estimated to drink water that is faecally contaminated. An even greater number drink water which is delivered through a system without adequate protection against sanitary hazards. Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality recommend that faecal indicator bacteria (FIB), preferably E. coli or alternatively thermotolerant coliform (TTC), should not be detectable in any 100 ml drinking water sample (WHO 2011). An adequate protection against sanitary hazards can for example be public taps or standpipes, tube wells or boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs and rainwater collection. 

WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation

Between 2013 and 2015, annual economic growth is estimated at about 6% in developing countries and 2% in higher income countries

As economies grow and diversify, they experience competing demands for water to meet the needs of more municipal and industrial uses, as well as agriculture.

World Water Development Report 2014

Water, energy and food are inextricably linked

Nowhere is the critical inter-relationship between water and energy more evident than in the Asia-Pacific region, home to 61% of the world's people and with its population expected to reach five billion by 2050. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts a massive rise in energy consumption in the Asia-Pacific region: from barely 1/3 of global consumption to 51-56% by 2035.

photo by Martine Perret

World Water Development Report 2014

Asia is where 46% of the global primary energy is produced

Coal is the most prevalent energy product within the Asia-Pacific region, with China and India together extracting more than half of the world's total output. There is also a growing market for renewable sources such as biofuel, with China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand among the leading regional producers. Both coal and biofuel require vast amounts of freshwater, and some areas within this region are already deemed water-scarce. While already heavily reliant on coal, Asia's demand for this primary energy source is projected to increase by 47% in coming years, which will account for 119% of the global total increase.

photo by Sean Gallagher

World Water Development Report 2014

World energy consumption increased by 186% between 1973 and 2010 and for the same period industry’s use increased by 157%

Global energy demand is expected to grow by more than 1/3 over the period to 2035, with China, India and the Middle Eastern countries accounting for about 60% of the increase. Over the period 2010-2035, there is evidence that demand for all types of primary energy will increase. Electricity demand is expected to grow by approximately 70% by 2035, with India and China accounting for more than half that growth.


World Water Development Report 2014

Women and children represent a disproportionately large fraction of the bottom billion: the world's population living on less than US$1.25 per day

They have the most to gain from poverty reduction measures centered on improving access to water supply and energy services. Water and firewood collection can place women and girls at increased risk of sexual or physical assault, especially at night in the absence of adequate lighting. The over-reliance on straw, wood, charcoal or dung for cooking and heating is detrimental to women's and children's health: they account for more than 85% of the 2 million yearly deaths attributed to cancer, respiratory infection and lung disease due to indoor air pollution. Women and girls are also the most exposed to waterborne diseases.

photo by WHO-Anna Kari

World Water Development Report 2014

More than half of humanity currently lives in cities

Between 2010 and 2015, almost 200,000 people will move to the world's cities daily, with 91% of this growth expected in cities of developing countries. Cities not only consume large amounts of water: their high concentration of industry, transport systems and buildings also demands large amounts of energy (cities consume 60-80% of the commercial energy). As many of the rapidly growing cities in developing countries -particularly in Africa, South Asia and China- already face problems related to water and energy, they will be major hotspots for water and energy crises in the future.  

photo by Ahron de Leeuw

World Water Development Report 2014

An estimated 870 million people are undernourished due to a lack of food or of access to it

Demographic projections suggest that world population will increase by a third -to 9.3 billion- by 2050. Most of this increase will occur in developing countries. Estimates suggest that global food production will need to increase by as much as 60% by 2050 to meed demand.

World Water Development Report 2014

Agriculture is the biggest water user, with irrigation accounting for 70% of global water withdrawals

The industrial and domestic sectors account for the remaining 20% and 10%, respectively, although these figures vary considerably across countries. In most of the world's least developed countries, agriculture accounts for more than 90% of water withdrawals. Rainfed agriculture is the predominant agricultural production system around the world, and its current productivity is, on average, little more than 1/2 the potential obtainable under optimal agricultural management. Without improved efficiencies, agricultural water consumption is expected to increase globally by about 20% by 2050.

World Water Development Report 2014

Industry uses proportionately significantly more of the energy supply than it does of the water supply

The industrial sector accounts for about 37% of primary global energy use and 19% of all water withdrawals, although the latter with big regional variations: 2% in South Asia and 77% in Western Europe. In developed countries, industrial water use may be stabilizing due to increased efficiency and the move of some manufacturing plants to low income countries, although lack of access to water may hinder such moves, especially for water-dependent industries. As industry is primarily focused on production, its interest is to secure water and energy at the lowest prices and not necessarily within a programme of water and energy efficiency. This provides an opportunity for policy intervention.

World Water Development Report 2014
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Last update:07 Oct 2014