UN warns around 5 billion people could face water shortages by 2050 – WaterAid response

Posted by
Fiona Callister
19 March 2018
South Africa, Water, Climate change, Inequality
Image: WaterAid/Ronny Sen

In response to the United Nations World Water Development report, which says that by 2050, around 5 billion people could be living in areas of water scarcity, Jonathan Farr, WaterAid’s Senior Policy Analyst – Water Security and Climate Change, said:

"The world is facing a water crisis, and this UN report, published only weeks after Cape Town faced the real prospect of running out of water, is a timely reminder that water is a finite and essential resource that must be protected.

"Currently there are 844 million people – one in nine of the world’s population – who do not have clean water close to home. Others face an unreliable supply of water because agriculture, industry or wealthier sections of society are able to take more than their fair share of water. The impact of climate change is likely to make water supply much less predictable in future making it crucial that water is carefully managed and distribution priorities household use, ensuring that everyone has what they need to live a healthy and dignified life."


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WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 34 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]

  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]

  • Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]

  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

  • Just £24 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

  • To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org


[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] washwatch.org

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org/uk