World Water Day – 768 million people living without access to water


21 Mar 2014 | AU

As the world celebrates World Water Day this Saturday, WaterAid is calling for Australia to play a leading role in reaching the remaining, but still-staggeringly-high, 768 million people who do not have access to clean water today. Many of these people are women and girls, living in countries such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Cambodia and Timor-Leste – Australia’s neighbours.

“Two years ago today, the global announcement was made that the world had halved the proportion of people without access to safe, clean water, since 1990. That is over two billion people with a greater chance at living a long, healthy and prosperous life because they have gained access to clean water,” said WaterAid Director of Policy and Campaigns, Jonathon Gurry.

“To have reached this number of people with access to clean water is a huge achievement; one that the global community should be deeply proud of,” continued Mr Gurry.

“However, there are still 2,000 children under five dying every day from water-related illnesses and women are still carrying back-breaking loads of water long distances because they do not have water close to home. We know that for $1 invested in water and sanitation there is an economic return of $4 by keeping people healthy and productive. Clean water, combined with sanitation and hygiene saves lives and improves livelihoods,” Mr Gurry illustrated.

“The global community has now reached a critical stage in discussions to determine a framework that will supersede the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a clear, consistent and far-reaching agenda that 188 Heads of State, including then-Prime Minister John Howard, committed to in the year 2000, in an effort to reduce global poverty by 2015. We are in the final year of this framework and the world has greatly reduced poverty and the MDG target to halve extreme poverty by 50% has been met,” stated Mr Gurry.

“It’s time to finish the job. It will be this government that will decide whether to commit Australia to a ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) framework, a 15 year plan that will succeed the MDGs, seeking to eradicate poverty for good. This will mean not just saving lives, but creating better, more prosperous lives and the opportunity for every person to have good health, an education, and a job,’ explained Mr Gurry.

”Clean water and adequate sanitation lay the foundation for lifting people out of poverty and continuing to live free of poverty. It saves lives, reduces illness, and provides children the chance to go to school and women the opportunity to earn a decent living. So, it is this Government who can ensure that the global community recognises clean water and adequate sanitation is a fundamental building block to sustainable development,” urged Mr Gurry.

“We are encouraged by the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ statements of an aid program focused on the Asia-Pacific region, with women and girls, health and education as the priority areas,” continued Mr Gurry.

“WaterAid is calling on the Australian Government to play a leading part in calling for a dedicated goal on water and sanitation in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework. As the Government finalises the detail of its aid program, we look forward to supporting this Government in ensuring water, sanitation and hygiene underpin a global approach that will save and improve lives in Australia’s neighbouring region,” concluded Mr Gurry.

Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager: 03 9001 8246 or [email protected]

About WaterAid
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit: