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Handout 1: Sad Statistics

Adapted from information on the PBS website for Bill Moyers'program, NOW, accessed July, 2009.

  • Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water. But only 2.5% of that is fresh water.
  • Only 1% of the world's freshwater is available for use. A lot of the rest is trapped in icecaps or underground.
  • Twenty percent of the world's human population does not have safe drinking water. That is 1.1 billion people.
  • More than 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation.
  • In 1998, 31 countries had bad water shortages. By the year 2025, unless something changes, there will be 17 more countries on the list.
  • In parts of Africa and Asia, young girls and women walk about six miles a day to get water. They often carry more than 40 pounds of water on their heads. When they are getting water, they cannot go to school or work or care for their families.
  • Every day, 3,900 children die because of lack of safe water and sanitary conditions.
  • About 5% of the world's water supplies are privately controlled. People have to pay to use them. Poor people can't afford the water, so they use whatever they can find in lakes and rivers. Many become ill and die. Early in this century, one cholera epidemic in South Africa made more than 250,000 people sick.
  • Ten (about 5%) of the world's countries have 65% of the world's water resources.
  • Here is how fresh water is used: 70% for agriculture, 22% for industries, and 8% for direct human purposes.
  • Of all the diseases in developing nations, 80% come from unsafe water and sanitation.
  • The news is not all bad. In the 1990s, a billion more people got access to safe water.

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Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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