The United Nations Millennium Development Goals initiative sets the goal of halving the percentage of people worldwide who do not have adequate sources of drinking water or live in unsanitary conditions.
More than 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and some 2.6 billion are deprived of basic sanitation.
In a report released today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said rapid population growth, particularly in urban areas, means health services face difficulties even maintaining current levels.
An Iraqi boy drinks from a waste-water reservoir near Baghdad (epa file photo)
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. Disputes about access to water are increasingly coming to the center of global attention, especially in China, India, and Central Asia. Writing about the 1967 Six Day War in his 2001 memoirs, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that "while border disputes between Syria and ourselves were of great significance, the matter of water diversion was a stark issue of life and death." (more)