Secure and safe water is the focus of 2011 World Water Week

During this week’s World Water Week activities in Stockholm and around the world, we intend to do our part at ITTH2OPros by bringing you daily updates highlighting the urgent water-related issues being discussed.

World Water Week is a global event in Stockholm, Sweden that is organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). The event brings over 2,500 experts, practitioners, decision-makers and business innovators from around the world together (millions more access digitally with program webcast or daily interviews) to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions, which this year focuses on secure and safe ‘Water in an Urbanized World.’

In fact, did you know that 20 years ago ITT and other global water leaders banded together to make the week a reality?

Today, the global leaders at the opening session called for increased investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure and smarter water management to avoid droughts, floods and pollution from further threatening the food, energy, and water security in a rapidly urbanizing world.

With more than 800 million people living in areas where water-related diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and cholera have devastating effects on the livelihood of families and the economies of their countries; the risk of losing the battle on water and sanitation in many cities around the world is growing increasingly critical.

By the numbers

The sanitation and health story is usually reflected in numbers, and most of the news is not good.

  • 884 million people – about half of which live in Asia – still rely on drinking water from unimproved sources such as ponds, streams, irrigation canals and unprotected dug wells
  • Up to 50% of malnutrition is related to repeated diarrhea or intestinal nematode infections as a result of unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene
  • 3.6 million people die each year from water-related diseases, 43% of which are due to diarrhea
  • 5000 children under age 5 are killed every day by diarrhea alone
  • 2.5 billion lack access to safe sanitation
  • 18% of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people (1 out of 3 in rural areas), defecate in the open
  • Improved water supply reduces diarrhea morbidity by 21%
  • Improved sanitation reduces diarrhea morbidity by 37.5%
  • In many places of the world, a staggering 30-40% of water or more goes unaccounted for due to water leakages in pipes and canals and illegal tapping.

The burden of disease costs the world 4.1 trillion USD each year and lack of safe sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection. This makes it the world’s biggest public health issue.

The economics and financing of water solutions will be a focus of our 2011 World Water Week discussion tomorrow as we continue to highlight solutions to improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources management.


Photo credit: Thomas Henrikson/SIWI