Contaminated water is a bigger killer than all forms of violence, including war, says a new UN report. Sick Water? The Central Role of Wastewater Management in Sustainable Development was compiled by the UN Environment Programme and UN-HABITAT, the UN Human Settlements Programme.
According to the report, “Globally, two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste is discharged into the world’s waterways and at least 1.8 million children under five years-old die every year from water related disease, or one every 20 seconds. Over half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied with people suffering from illnesses linked with contaminated water and more people die as a result of polluted water than are killed by all forms of violence including wars.”
The problems connected with wastewater are expected to increase as the global population increases and becomes increasingly urbanized.
The report argues, however, that wise investments in wastewater management have the potential to address many of these problems: “Instead of being a source of problems, well-managed wastewater will be a positive addition to the environment which in turn will lead to improved food security, health and therefore economy.”