Geneva/New York/Washington, October 24, 2022 – Governments must invest strategically in building clean water systems by strengthening not only financing, but also capacity to plan, coordinate and regulate service delivery , so that the world achieves universal access to safe drinking water and mitigates the effects of climate change, say WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank in a report published today.

Fragile and inequitable progress in terms of access to water

The report on the state of drinking water in the world indicates that more than 2 billion people have gained access to drinking water in the last two decades. This progress, although positive, is fragile and inequitable, with a quarter of the world’s population remaining on the margins. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, which exacerbate water insecurity, disrupt supplies and devastate communities. At the same time, rapid urbanization is increasingly straining the ability of cities to provide water to millions of people living in informal communities and slums.

« Improved access to clean water has saved many lives, most of them children. But climate change is eroding those gains », said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health. « We must accelerate our efforts to ensure that every person has reliable access to safe drinking water, which is a human right, not a luxury. » 

The report provides a comprehensive review of the links between water, health and development, with actionable recommendations for governments and partners, illustrated with examples of how countries are contributing to the achievement of the target. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to achieve safely managed drinking water for all by 2030.

Substantial investments are still necessary

« Investing in water and sanitation is essential for health, economic growth and the environment. Healthier children become healthier adults who then contribute more to the economy and society», said Saroj Kumar Jha, Regional Director for the Middle East and Global Director of the World Bank Group on Practices. related to water. « This principle is at the heart of the World Bank’s Human Capital project. Governments and the private sector must take critical steps now to accelerate the delivery of inclusive and sustainable water and sanitation services in urban and rural areas.»

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