Safe and readily available water is important for public health, including for drinking, domestic use, food production, or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and contribute to poverty reduction.
Water and health
Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases. Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks.
Inadequate management of urban, industrial, and agricultural wastewater means the drinking-water of hundreds of millions of people is dangerously contaminated or chemically polluted.
Economic and social effects
When water comes from improved and more accessible sources, people spend less time and effort collecting it. Better water access can also result in greater personal safety by reducing the need to make long or risky journeys to collect and carry water. It also means less money spent on health problems.
Children are particularly at risk from water-related diseases. Access to improved sources of water can result in better health and better school attendance.
Climate change, increasing water scarcity, population growth, demographic changes, and urbanization all pose challenges for water supply systems. Over 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries. One important strategy for dealing with this challenge is the re-use of wastewater.
Water sources used for drinking-water and irrigation will continue to evolve. Options include increased use of groundwater and alternative sources, including wastewater. Climate change will lead to greater fluctuations in harvested rainwater. Management of all water resources will need to be improved to ensure supply and quality.
Source: Drinking water
© 2023 WHO