A rag picker collecting waste polythenes from polluted waters of Yamuna River in New Delhi. Polluted water is a major health hazard to millions.
Polluted drinking water claim more lives than all forms of violence, including war, a UN report has said, highlighting the need for clean water.
The report, released on the occasion of World Water Day by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Monday, said one child under the age of five dies every 20 seconds from water-related diseases.
According to the report titled ‘Sick Water’, the sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars.
“These deaths are an affront to our common humanity, and undermine the efforts of many countries to achieve their development potential,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking Word Water Day.
“Day after day, we pour millions of tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural wastes into the world’s water systems. And the poor continue to suffer first and most from pollution, water shortages and the lack of adequate sanitation.”
The report said that some two million tons of waste is being discharged daily into rivers and seas causing the spread of disease and damage of ecosystems.
The report has described wastewater as a “cocktail of fertilizer run-off and sewage disposal alongside animal, industrial, agricultural and other wastes”.
“If the world is to thrive, let alone to survive on a planet of six billion people heading to over nine billion by 2050, we need to get collectively smarter and more intelligent about how we manage waste including waste waters,” said Achim Steiner, the head of the UNEP.
“The facts and figures are stark – pollution from wastewater is quite literally killing people, indeed at least 1.8 million children die annually as a result of contaminated water,” he added.
Notably, the UN has declared 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Life.”