Friday, March 23, 2018

Only 37 per cent of people have access to clean water in Papua New Guinea

 by Anne Gulland,
March 21, 2018

People in Cape Town are forced to queue for water as a drought has led to the government warning that the city's taps may soon run dry
Captain Eric Aliawi of HeliSolutions supervising water bottles for delivery to earthquake victims at Mori Airport.-Picture by MALUM NALU

Access to clean, safe drinking water is seen as one of the most important ways to improve a nation’s health but a report shows that for nearly a billion people, this is far from reality.
The charity Water Aid estimates that around 844 million people around the world have to make at least a 30-minute round trip to get clean, safe water or are forced to drink from unprotected sources or directly from rivers or lakes, almost certainly risking their health.
Drinking and bathing in dirty water leads to a host of health problems such as diarrhoeal disease, which kills 289,000 children every year, skin infections and illnesses such as trachoma, a painful eye condition which can lead to blindness.
The report from Water Aid ranks countries in terms of access with Eritrea at the bottom of the list, with just 19 per cent of its population having access to a clean water supply.
This is followed by Papua New Guinea, where just 37 per cent have the most basic access and Uganda where just 38  per cent of the population have safe drinking water.
 India has the largest number of people lacking access to clean water, with more than 163 million people without even the most basic water supply.
India faces great strains on its water supply: falling groundwater levels, drought and demand from industry.
However, the country has also made great strides in recent years - with 300m people gaining access to clean water since 2000. Last year the government committed to providing clean water to 90 per cent of rural households by 2022.
The report also looks at how countries have changed over time and, despite its ongoing problems, Afghanistan has made the most progress.
In 2015 63 per cent of the population had access to clean water, compared to 27 per cent in 2000.
Yemen has also made great improvements over the same period - from 43 per cent in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2015 - however, the report warns that the civil war ravaging the country will damage this progress.
The report also highlights the inequalities within countries - in Nigeria for example only 30 per cent of the poorest people have access to clean water, compared to 89 per cent of the richest.
The situation is similar in Mali - just 45 per cent of the poorest people have clean water, compared to 93 per cent of the richest.
The report highlights the issue of water security around the world: Cape Town, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations has warned that its taps may run dry this year and its residents have been forced to queue at pipes for water.
Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst for water security and climate change at Water Aid, said water had to become a political priority.
"If the investment, political will and capability is there we see huge changes in a very short space of time.
" In sub-Saharan Africa there are 407m people who don't have access to clean water.
"These countries have a lot of potential but we need to see it becoming a political priority like it has in Cape Town," he said.
But he warned that water security was becoming an issue for developed nations as well.
"There are threats such as climate change and lifestyle changes such as industrialisation which have a huge impact on water supply.
"Even in global cities like Cape Town water is in jeopardy - and Beijing and London have also had problems," he said. 

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