Did you know?

Fresh water is a valuable resource that we should take care of, especially now, as it becomes more and more scarce. For you to learn more about the current state of the water resources, their use and management worldwide, we found and listed below some interesting facts concerning this topic.

Water and Climate change:

  • Globally, water scarcity affects 4 out of every 10 people. A lack of water and poor water quality increases the risk of diarrhoea, which kills approximately 2.2 million people every year, as well as trachoma, an eye infection that can lead to blindness, and many other illnesses.
  • With the existing climate change scenario, by 2030, water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people.
  • By the 2080s, land unsuitable for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa die to severe climate, soil or terrain constraints may increase by 30 to 60 million hectares.

Water and Sanitation:

  • 783 million people (1 in 9 people) do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide.
  • To ensure our basic needs, we all need 20 to 50 liters of water free from harmful contaminants each and every day. However, a child born in the developed world consumes 30 to 50 times as much water resources as one in the developing world.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
  • Half of the world's hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.
  • According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34.
  • Less than one in three people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to a proper toilet.


    • Over 80% of global wastewater is released untreated back into nature, causing detrimental impacts on water supplies, human health, the economy and the environment.
    • The majority (38%) of global freshwater is consumed by the agriculture. Especially through the livestock breeding: 15'000 litres of water are needed for the production of 1 kg of beef.
    • About 500 million people live in areas where water consumption exceeds the locally renewable water resources by a factor of two.

    • The United Nations estimates high-income countries treat 70% of the wastewater they generate, yet only 8% of low-income countries’ wastewater undergoes any treatment.
    • Only 26% of urban and 34% of rural sanitation and wastewater services effectively prevent human contact with excreta along the entire sanitation chain and can therefore be considered safely managed.
    • In 2016, the water crisis was determined by the World Economic Forum as the global risk of highest concern for people and economies for the next ten years.

  • In Jordan 90% of the treated wastewater is being used for agricultural irrigation.
Water and Biodiversity:

  • In Europe 37% of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction.
  • Thirty three of the world’s 105 largest cities derive their drinking water from catchments within forest protected areas such as national parks and reserves.
  • Globally, the number of lakes with harmful algal blooms will increase by at least 20% until 2050. 

Water and Gender:

  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 7 out of 10 households in 45 developing countries
  • In Africa, 90% of the work of gathering water and wood, for the household and for food preparation, is done by women.
  • In some regions, women spend up to 5 hours a day collecting fuel wood and water and up to 4 hours preparing food.
  • About 44 million pregnant women have sanitation-related hookworm infections that pose a considerable health burden in developing societies.
  • Medical research has documented cases of permanent damage to women's health attributed to carrying water. Problems range from chronic fatigue, spinal and pelvic deformities, to effects on reproductive health such as spontaneous abortions. In some parts of Africa, where women expend as much as 85% of their daily energy intake fetching water, the incidence of anaemia and other health problems are very high.

Water and Infrastructure:

  • 90% of global power generation is water-intensive.
  • Power plant cooling is responsible for 43% of total freshwater withdrawals in Europe (more than 50% in several countries), nearly 50% in the United States of America, and more than 10% of the national water cap in China. 
  • Asia’s lower Mekong delta supports the world's most productive inland fisheries, providing 56 million people with up to 80% of their animal protein intake and valued at around US$ 3 billion per year.
  • Wetlands and their wildlife are a key part of the global tourism experience. Expenditure by tourists visiting wetlands is estimated at around US$ 925 billion each year.

Water and Governance:

  • The human right to safe drinking water was first recognized by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council as part of binding international law in 2010.
  • Management of the Australian city of Melbourne’s forested catchments (almost half of which are protected areas) is being adapted in the face of climate change to minimise impacts on water supplies.