Is water use sustainable?

No. In the last 100 years, global population tripled, but freshwater use increased sixfold

Published: Saturday 15 May 2004

-- Per capita water consumption in industrialised countries (500-800 litres per day) is on an average 10 times more than that of the developing nations (60-150 litres per day)

1.085 to 2.187 million deaths worldwide in 2000 due to diarrhoeal diseases can be attributed to unhealthy water and sanitation. 90 per cent of these deaths occur in children under five

Worldwide, 57-69 per cent of industrial water use is for hydro/nuclear power generation, 30-40 per cent for industrial processes and 0.5-3 per cent for thermal power generation

People having low incomes end up paying 2-50 times more for a litre of water than higher income groups who are often connected to heavily subsidised water infrastructure

Mismatch between global distribution of freshwater and population leads to more scarcity of freshwater. In Latin America and the Caribbean, about 40 per cent of the population is concentrated in 25 per cent of the region's territory having 10 per cent of the area's freshwater resources

It remains to be seen if the UN Millennium Declaration goal of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015 would be achieved

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