Overview of the Crisis

A global crisis like no other

The Problem

Whilst water is the largest commodity on the planet it is also the largest crisis. Some key public statistics:


people in the world do not have clean water close to their home. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2017


school days around the world are lost every year because of water related illnesses. Human Development Report, 2005


invested in water and toilets returns an average of $4 in increased productivity. WHO 2012

Promoting good hygiene

is one of the most cost-effective health interventions.

Disease Control Priorities, this edition (volume 2) 2016

33% drop

if everyone, everywhere had clean water, the number of diarrheal deaths would be cut by a third.

Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2014

Every 2 minutes

diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor toilets kills a child under 5, which is more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.



of schools don’t have clean water.

UNICEF, Advancing WASH in Schools Monitoring 2015


people don’t have a decent toilet of their own.

WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2017

water bottle being filled with dirty water

Globally, it is likely that over 80% of wastewater is released to the environment without adequate treatment.

(UNESCO, 2017)

The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials. (UNESCO, 2017).

The costs of wastewater management are greatly outweighed by the benefits to human health, economic development and environmental sustainability – providing new business opportunities and creating more ‘green’ jobs. (UN- Water, 2011)

Water availability is also affected by pollution. Most problems related to water quality are caused by intensive agriculture, industrial production, mining and untreated urban runoff and wastewater. (UN-Water, 2011)

Water Crisis – some more facts

  • By 2050, close to 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, compared to 50% today. Currently, most cities do not have inadequate infrastructure and resources to address wastewater management in an efficient and sustainable way. (UNDESA, 2014)
  • 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. (WHO/ UNICEF 2015)
  • Since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. (UNEP, 2016a)
  • The greatest increases in exposure to pollutants are expected to occur in low- and lower-middle income countries, primarily because of higher population and economic growth in these countries, especially those in Africa (UNEP, 2016a), and the lack of wastewater management systems. (WWDR, 2017)