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UN-Water Thematic Factsheets

UN-Water Thematic Factsheets present a series of quick facts on a range of issues related to water. These striking facts can be used for raising awareness of water-related issues and for building effective advocacy campaigns to promote responsible water use.

Click on the images below to download the PDF versions of these popular posters that have been updated in May 2013. More themes will be added to this series in the future.

Should you need more facts, have a look at our statistics section and visit our Key Water Indicators Portal.

Climate Change

There is evidence that the global climate is changing, and water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts the earth's ecosystem and people.

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Water and biodiversity

To coincide with the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation, the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May this year will address "Water and Biodiversity". This new fact sheet looks both at the role of water to sustain biodiversity and at the role of biodiversity for the provision of freshwater.

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Water and Disasters

During the period 2000 to 2006, a total of 2,163 water-related disasters were reported globally in the Emergency Disasters Database, killing more than 290,000 people, affecting more than 1.5 billion, and inflicting more than US$422 billion of damage.

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Water and Gender

Water scarcity has detrimental impacts on women and girls. Indeed, water is central to the full range of domestic 'unpaid' activities, which many cultures still view traditionally as "women domain": food preparation, care of animals, crop irrigation, personal hygiene of the entire household, care of the sick, cleaning, washing and waste disposal. This gendered division of labour in water collection tasks deprives women and girls from opportunities to escape the vicious circle of poverty and disempowerment. We need to view women and men as equal partners in all areas of water governance and water resource management at all levels.

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Water Quality

Every day, 2 million tons of human wastes are disposed of in watercourses, and in developing countries 70 % of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply. But not only industry contaminates our water resources, so does also agriculture. The contribution of the food sector to the production of organic water pollutants, are in high-income countries 40 % and in low-income countries 54 %.

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Sanitation

Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That's 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.

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Water scarcity

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could live under water stress conditions. 

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Transboundary waters

There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 transboundary river basins in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America) and 200 transboundary aquifers have also been identified.

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Water and Urbanization

Today, one in two people on the planet live in a city. The world's cities are growing at an exceptional rate and urbanisation is a continuum. 93% of the urbanization occurs in poor or developing countries, and nearly 40% of the world's urban expansion is growing slums.

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Water for Food

70% of the global water withdrawals go to agriculture. The world population is expected to rise from 7 billion people today to 9 billion in 2050, leading to a 60% increase of the food needed globally and a 19% increase of agricultural water consumption.

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Last update:06 Feb 2014