Researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) estimate that the number of people without safe water and sanitation is much higher than previously thought. If you add actual service levels and the unreliability of some of the data to the equation the picture may be even bleaker.
Dr. Jamie Bartram
Jamie Bartram’s team from UNC’s Water Institute calculated that 1.8 billion people (28% of the global population) used unsafe water in 2010  and that 4.1 billion (60% of the global population ) lacked access to improved sanitation . The corresponding official United Nations (UN) estimates are 783 million and 1.2 billion respectively.
The UN estimates are taken from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) . The JMP definition of safe water is linked to the use of improved drinking-water sources. In their definition of safe water, Bartram’s team also looks at the water quality and sanitary risk of the improved sources. For their calculations, they modelled and extrapolated data from a WHO/UNICEF study on the Rapid Assessment of Drinking-Water Quality (RADWQ) in 5 countries.
One of the most quoted WASH statistics was recently “downgraded”. For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, not $8 but “only” $4 is returned in economic returns through increased productivity. This recalculation , says the World Health Organization, is mainly a result of higher investment cost estimates and the more complete inclusion of operation and maintenance (O&M) costs.
Providing a better insight into O&M costs has been one of the achievements of the WASHCost project of the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. WASHCost has published minimum benchmarks for costing sustainable basic WASH services in developing countries . The project collected data from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique.
The main message is that spending less than the minimum benchmarks will result in a higher risk of reduced service levels or long-term failure. NGOs claiming that “US$20 can provide clean water for one person for 20 years” have clearly forgotten to include annual recurrent costs for operation and maintenance, capital maintenance and direct support.
The real cost for 20 years of basic water supply from a borehole and handpump would be, per person, between US$ 20 and US$ 61 for construction plus US$ 3-6 every year to keep it working. In total for the 20 years this would amount to US$ 80 to US$ 181 per person.
Similarly, for the most basic sanitation service, a traditional pit latrine, the combined costs would be US$ 37 – 106 per person over 20 years.
Posted in Financing, Publications, Sanitation, Statistics, Sustainable services, Water supply
Tagged cost-benefit analysis, handwashing, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, life-cycle costs, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, source_publish, WASHCost, Water and Sanitation Program, World Health Organization
A shortage of engineers in developing countries is hampering development, according to a new UNESCO global report on engineering . In developing countries there are on average only five engineers per 10,000 people – and less than one in some African countries – compared to 20–50 engineers per 10,000 in developed countries.
The poorest are hit hardest by the lack of engineers: 1.1 billion people have no access to clean water, 2 billion have no access to electricity and 800 million go hungry on a daily basis.
“The crucial thing is to address people’s basic needs: water supply, sanitation, better homes,” Tony Marjoram, editor of the report and head of engineering sciences at UNESCO, told SciDev.Net.
[...] Developing countries bear the brunt of climate change, so ensuring sustainable development is also important, he said.
“Engineering is often blamed for pollution but it can create solutions to reduce carbon emissions and make energy use more effective,” Marjoram said.
China, India, the Middle East and North Africa, and Southern Africa are all rated as ‘high risk’ in a new study evaluating the vulnerability of 159 countries to water stress.
The Water Stress Index is developed by global risks advisory firm Maplecroft to identify the risks to governments, populations and business. The index is calculated by evaluating the ratio of a country’s total water use, from domestic, industrial and agricultural use, to the renewable supply of water from precipitation, streams, rivers and groundwater. The index is accompanied by a sub-national map, which utilises GIS (Geographic Information System) technology to pinpoint global water stress down to 50km² worldwide.
Population growth and rising global temperatures mean that water stress will continue to be a challenge for governments, business and society.
The ten countries with the least secure supplies of water are Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan, Niger, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkmenistan and Syria, according a review of 165 nations. This was revealed in the 2010Water Security Risk Index, published by Maplecroft, a firm specialising in corporate risk intelligence for multinationals.
The Water Security Risk Index is based on four key areas surrounding the issue. These include: access to improved drinking water and sanitation; the availability of renewable water and the reliance on external supplies; the relationship between available water and supply demands; and the water dependency of each country’s economy.
Maplecroft’s research finds that countries in the extreme risk category, including the emerging economies of Pakistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan, are already experiencing internal and cross-border tensions due to limited water resources. Furthermore, as the global climate changes, water stress is predicted to become more acute in these regions and has the potential to threaten stability.
In Africa there are 15 countries in the high and extreme risk categories.
Source: Maplecroft, 24 Jun 2010
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has updated its Water Facts and Trends publication ( 3.5 MB) , which now includes recent information on access to water and sanitation, areas of economic and physical water scarcity and economic considerations in water management.
This working document provides an overview of some basic facts and societal challenges related to water. It has been developed by the WBCSD secretariat and is intended to support the ongoing dialogue within the WBCSD membership and with other stakeholders in civil society and government.
The emphasis in this document is on water availability and people’s use of water for agricultural, industrial and domestic purposes.
Data has been drawn from documents prepared for the World Water Forums, the OECD, the World Resources Institute and other research organizations.
The document is one of the outputs of WBCSD’s Water project that aim to help companies integrate water issues in their strategic planning. Other outputs include Water Scenarios to 2025 (2006) the Global Water Tool (2007) and Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Water Management (2005).
Source: WBCSD, 12 Aug 2009