Lack of access to water supply is aggravated by conflict and violence, imperiling more lives especially those of children. From its Joint Monitoring Report titled "Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation", UNICEF and the World Health Organization have found that more than 180 million people around the world now have little to no access to safe water supply.
Of the 484 million people living in fragile situations in 2015, 183 million lacked access to water supply, the report said.
Both United Nations agencies stressed that water is a basic need for survival yet many people in underdeveloped and developing nations were deprived of it.
"Children's access to safe water and sanitation, especially in conflicts and emergencies, is a right, not a privilege," according to Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF's global chief of water, sanitation and hygiene.
Cited was Yemen, now currently facing the world's biggest cholera crisis with more than half a million suspected cases reported. The country is reeling from the impact of a civil war that has damaged basic health services, water supply networks and left many health professionals unpaid. The report noted that around 15 million people in that country were cut off from access to water and sanitation.
Somalia and South Sudan are two other African nations facing widespread cholera outbreaks.
In Syria, the agencies reported that water was used as a weapon of war, with supplies for Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Raqqa and Dara being deliberately cut off. Fifteen million people and 6.4 children need access to safe water in the country.
Nigeria has 75 percent of its water and sanitation infrastructure compromised, even as 3.6 people need access to safe water. In South Sudan, half of its water systems have likewise been destroyed.
Famine is yet another threat, further compounding the problem of lack of safe water particularly in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Nearly 30 million people - 14.6 million of them children - are in urgent need of safe water. More than five million children are estimated to be malnourished this year, 1.4 million of them severely so, according to the UN agencies.
By 2030, WHO and UNICEF are aiming to end open defecation, achieve universal access to basic services and move towards progress in safe services. MIMS
WHO, UNICEF joint report on safe water and safe sanitation access
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