One billion without water

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) says that despite global shortages, the real water crisis is not with scarcity but of access to safe drinking water.

CIWEM says one billion people lack adequate access to safe drinking water and two billion lack access to adequate sanitation.

With the world's urban population exceeding that of the rural population, there is a growing pressure on environmental resources.

A huge shift is needed, says the charity, in policy, institutional approaches and engineering.

CIWEM believes that the community needs to be involved in the development of water supply and sanitation so that policies and programmes are relevant to them.

CIWEM executive director, Nick Reeves OBE, said: "The lack of access to water and sanitation for millions of people is the greatest development failure of the modern era. Sanitation has enormous economic, social and ecological implications."

"Society has long believed that science and technology can provide effective solutions to most of the environmental problems that we face.

"But it is political commitment that is key to making services work and to do this, governments must be held to account by active citizens demanding their rights.

"There will be no sustainable development unless we develop coordinated mechanisms and processes that, together, offer a participatory system to develop visions, goals and targets for sustainable development."

Next week marks World Water Day, (March 22) which will be focusing on these issues.

This year's theme, Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge, will centre international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialisation and climate change on urban water systems. Alison Brown


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