Improved but Not Always Safe; More Than 1 Billion People Likely at Risk for Lack of Clean Water

By early 2012 only approximately 800 million people around the globe still relied on “unimproved” water sources such as streams, ditches or unprotected wells, which are the most likely places for contaminated waters. Pipes, boreholes and protected wells are much more likely to prevent contact with dangerous pathogens, chemicals or sewage runoff. But just because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink. In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been “improved” are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses. It has been found that many sources of “improved” water failed the safety test. When these improved waters were tested and compared with survey data about where people got most of their water, the estimates for the populations that have access to safe drinking water fell by 16 percent in Nicaragua, 15 percent in Nigeria, 11 percent in Ethiopia and 7 percent in Tajikistan. It is estimated that some 1.8 billion people—28 percent of the population worldwide—was using unsafe water as of 2010. 

Katie Brockway

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