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Water: we once thought it was an endless natural resource. Now we know better.

Photo: mattman23

1. Over 1.5 billion people do not have access to clean, safe water.

Photo: ePi.Longo

2. Almost 4 million people die each year from water related diseases.

12. The average toilet uses 8 litres of clean water in a single flush.

13. At any one time, more than half the world’s poor are ill due to inadequate sanitation, water or hygiene.

14. It takes over 11,000 litres of water to produce a pound of coffee.

15. Half the world’s schools do not have access to clean water, nor adequate sanitation.

16. It takes about 300 litres of water to make the paper for just one Sunday newspaper.

17. Agriculture is responsible for about 70% of the world’s water usage. Industry uses a further 22%.

18. 443 million school days are lost each year due to water related illness.

19. On average, women in Africa and Asia have to walk 3.7 miles to collect water.

Photo: rachelmolenda

20. The average dishwasher uses over 100 litres per cycle.

21. It takes up to 5000 litres of water to produce 1kg of rice.

22. 80% of all illness in the developing world comes from water born diseases.

Photo: Sacca

23. Drilling a fresh water well can cost anything from a few hundred dollars to over $40,000.

24. Over 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.

25. 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers or streams without any treatment.

26. About 1.8 million child deaths a year are due to diarrhea.

Photo: Sacca

27. An 18 litre can of water weighs 20 kilos.

28. About half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by someone with a water related illness.

29. A five minute shower in an American household will use more water than a person living in a developing world slum will use in a whole day.

30. A third of the people without access to clean water live on less than a dollar a day. More than two thirds live on less than two dollars a day.

31. Water consumption in a US household is eight times that of an Indian household.

32. In India alone, water born diseases cost the economy 73 million working days per year.

33. In sub-Saharan Africa a child’s chance of dying from diarrhea is over 500 times greater than in Europe.

34. Approximately 2.5 billion people lack access to appropriate sanitation facilities.

35. About 1.2 billion people have absolutely no access to a sanitation facility.

36. In a typical year in Africa 5–10 times the number of people die from diarrhea than from war.

Photo: Julien Harneis

37. Simply washing hands can decrease the chance of diarrhea by around 35%.

38. Global sales of bottled water account for over $60-$80 billion each year.

39. A child dies of water born diseases about every 15 seconds (that’s about 12 children just since you started reading this article). By this time tomorrow, another 2,500 will be dead.

40. As little as one dollar can provide clean water for a child in the developing world for an entire year.

Community Connection:

Want to help?,,, and are just three of the hundreds of charities trying to bring clean water to the developing world.

Want to know how much water you’re using? Calculate your water footprint.

About The Author

Matt Scott

Having spent the majority of his adult life traveling and working abroad, Matt Scott has plenty to write about; his writing and photos have appeared in publications around the world, both on line and in print. Originally from the UK he currently lives in Paris, where he works as a trip leader for an active travel company.

  • eileen

    Great article. I think I “knew” some of that, but not with this level of detail and precision. Online newspaper reading just got a whole lot (even) more fashionable.

  • Turner

    Excellent presentation, Matt; I didn’t even start thinking about these things until I spent some time in Thailand.

  • Hal

    So, so many of the world’s problems come down to this issue. Water is THE #1 need of all humans, and the fact that for hundreds of millions of us this need is not met is beyond tragic.

  • Ryan

    Great round-up of stats! Over the past year I’ve been looking closely at my water bill and am shocked at how many gallons I use! So I have been trying to be very conscious of my water use to whittle that number down more each month. Thanks for the reminder of how precious water is!

  • Frank

    Matt, great article! I think a lot of people in the U.S. aren’t really aware of the problems that are arising due to water shortages. It’s a good reason to drink tap water instead of buying it bottled.

    • gd1tho

      I’m not advocating turning on a faucet and walking away–or any kind of water waste–but you make it sound like being American somehow equates to ignorance, wastefulness, and indulgence at every turn. Am I supposed to feel sorry that I live in a great nation? I use–and pay for–what I need, want, and have available to me, and I conserve when and where I can, but without being manic about it.
      No one in any of the developing countries forces the population to reproduce. Maybe instead of worrying about water they could worry about why they keep producing dozens of children per family…all of whom will need water to survive.
      The majority of this article was the same statistic (diarrhea is bad, mmkay?) said in many ways. Maybe some of these children would survive if their irresponsible, ignorant, and primitive parents exercised forethought by having only the amount of children that they can sustain. The same goes for the poor in our cities, for that matter.

  • Mike

    Might I suggest a little work in editing? For example, #24 and #34 are essentially the same statistic, except that the number differs by (over) 100,000,000 people. There are several other examples in which the same statistic is essentially reused several times throughout the list.

    It’s a vitally important topic, so I laud you for writing the list. I think it will have greater impact if it doesn’t seem “padded”.

  • Sara

    Great facts and statistics. I learned some of this when I was in third grade I think, but this really puts a human face on the problem.

  • Mr Heartless

    Mike, you just read all this the fact that most bothers you is that the editing was not sufficent! I think you missed the point a little!

  • elisamaria

    Hey, great article! FYI, the link in number 16 seems broken.

  • haithinh

    The first pic is taken in Vietnam, right?? So sad!

  • Arun


    We run a portal for all water/sanitation related topics in India.
    Here are some facts/case studies related to drinking water -

    You could also follow our blog on -

  • Kobi

    This is all very sad.It seems that a lot of the facts are related to America. Is it really that wasteful of a country. I hope not, or they really need to do something. If someone can live of 4 litres of water Im sure they can do a little better.

  • Christian

    How do we know that these “facts” arn’t just made up?

    • Gerry

      Click on the links! Duh!

  • sarath kumar

    its good to know about the water shortage in the world thank you

  • amairani

    water is good

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  • http://Google aswathy sunil

    hey, it’s a wonderful & heart touching true article Matt. Thanks for such a nice one!
    I believe this article wiil inspire many people to conserve water.

  • johnathan stevens

    well i think that artical will help those people out a lot because some people have compasionate hearts and feel its thier obligation to give these people what they need but some are heartless and cold blooded adn dont help if they can so thanks for this artical

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  • Avni Gupta

    your article was fabulous. it should be published in a newspaper. we waste so much of water without knowing it’s value and deprive those who are in dire need of it. your article will certainly help realise people the value of the water that they use callously.

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  • Pancho

    why are all these people non-white?

    • Julie Schwietert

      Because they all live in places where water shortages and water cleanliness problems are prominent.

    • Ria

      I thiink because the maiin water problems are iiN Africa and Asia thats whyyyy ! x

    • Vegan Minstrel/ YouTube

      I think it’s because the majority chased the minority out into the cold regions where man evolved out of necessity to survive and thus ended up being able to dominate the whole world with superior weaponry.

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  • lola

    call me ignorant, but can someone explain why people in Africa donot have water? they are surrounded by the ocean and seas, I understand that they don’t have water systems , but why? I think they still get a lot in humanitarian aid, why can’t someone engineer the water systems?

    • Tony

      It’s because sea and ocean water is salty, and salt water is not good to drink. They can’t get water pipes because nearly two-thirds of them live on less than $2 a day, remember?

    • Bellaswan

      listen lola 
      did u know that canada has the most fresh water 
      they have salt water not FRESH water listen if u drink salt water ur lungs can dry out u can die and it cost so much money just to get the salt out of the water to get fresh water. so many countries have oceans and lakes but they have salt water in them

  • Fish Jones

    Sadly, this makes me want to go turn on the washing machine, the dishwasher, the shower, flush the toilet and run the tap while I brush my teeth. Especially because these sorts of things do not actually use up the most water. They create a guilt trip for people who live in developed countries while not actually assisting anything.

    The most water in developed countries is used agriculturally in something called ‘virtual water’. You could run the water while you brush your teeth for a month at least before you use up as much virtual water as your jeans did in the making. This is called ‘virtual water’, and is the greatest source of ‘wasted’ water in the developed country.

    • Vegan Minstrel

      You are right!!! The meat eaters of the world , 99.5 pecent, are using the most water.

      • Vegan Minstrel/Youtube

        Vegan Minstrel/YouTube…… that is. Check out the “Collage”.60 songs in 4:27 minutes.

  • Rahul Maurya

    Valuable data… The need of the hour is not to just write or think but to work and act to preserve WATER!!

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  • R.M.Nehru

    The facts and statistics on water were quite interesting. Many were quite disturbing to hear about. Great article to read and have a clear perspective on water. The author deserves much appreciation.

  • lauren
  • Cici

    people need help in the world why not help them

  • Alexandra Longest

    To find the facts about water check out !

  • guest

    wow so much of water is being wasted every minute

  • Thomas – EV

    shocking numbers!

  • themonkeymixer

    interesting, the nation that is basted in freedom and capitalism and freedom has the ability to provide for its citizens. while tyrants are failing to provide clean drinking water … 

  • Butch_dagondon

    Water should be free…from corruption, capitalisation, speculation and manipulation in the name of…humanitarian, development, health and commoditization

  • Bruce Miller

    Benevolent interventions giving water, nourishment, result in unnatural population expansions in regions where the environments are already over taxed, and sustainability is impossible. Wider scope must be undertaken, even to the total development of a region, its people, its resources. Altruistic efforts must not end in undue human death and suffering due to unsustainable, unrealistic, interventions. cautious education , likely the least harmful intervention will not result in quick solutions, but on the longer tern may be the most humane. 

  • Chazz Korvex

    I never knew these facts about Water – Thank You – Nice article :)

  • _Adrianna_Halls_

    How Sad Is this..I really wanna cry i mean im sitting here drinking water i just think they have nothing except Disgusting Water i sent a dollar & Canned food 1 Months Ago – Adrianna

  • Amy

    nooo very sad

  • Shubhank Saxena

    Really,sad.We enjoy water sports here and they are just not getting their proper ware requirements.We will all have to work for it and see that everyone gets at least basic requirements

  • Abc101


    • Bella101

      yeah ur right it’s wow i mean so many dont even know this stuff all we do is sit around and watch our water get wasted when we dont need it i feel so sorry for those who dont have a drop of water
      i fell like crying for them

      • Mary

        i know how u feel, i feel  like crying tooo

  • Matt-Scott

    Benevolent interventions giving water, nourishment, result in unnatural population expansions in regions where the environments are already over taxed, and sustainability is impossible. Wider scope must be undertaken, even to the total development of a region, its people, its resources. Altruistic efforts must not end in undue human death and suffering due to unsustainable, unrealistic, interventions. cautious education , likely the least harmful intervention will not result in quick solutions, but on the longer tern may be the most humane.

    • Vegan Minstrel

      Vegan Minstrel / YouTube

      The latest post is “Collage”, 60 songs in 4:27 and a John Lennon melody, “Power to the People”, Our version, “Power to the Vegan”.

      Thank You, Bradda, 4 yo contribution.

  • avdhesh goutam

    plz  save  water for future…………

  • Helllllooocraig

    i want to giva dollar

  • Brett

    Really good post. Sad though. When you consider that 1.5 billion people don’t have access to clean water it makes you realise how fortunate you are.

  • Stanagezachary

    owowowowoowowowwoowooowowowoowowoowowoowowoowowoowowo                               very sad

    • Loveguy

      yes very very sad

  • 1vyvccx6us2zlhx

    how’s this for an idea…instead of blaming everything on the US…why dont you spend YOUR money and build these people a water tower, filtration system, pipes, faucets and toliets and then they too can live a healthier life….oh but then you wouldnt have a reason to exist anymore would you…

  • Jweener


  • Bhatia2756

    I want every body in the world have right to clean water for life. SAVE WATER < GROW MORE TREE < SAVE LIFE   if we save one drop of water i hope we save one life.

  • Mederbek Yrsaliev

    Кыргызстан, пойми наконец, чем ты владеешь!

  • Herbert Mergener

    Wenn Sie gegen Plastik Flaschen sind.
    dann denken Sie an die Hilfsorganisationen und die Katastrophen dieser Welt.
    zum Beispiel in Haiti oder Japan etc.etc.

  • Herbert Mergener

    If you are against plastic bottles. then think of the aid agencies and the disasters of this world. For example, in Haiti or Japan, etc.etc. WITHOUT WATER BOTTLES IN THESE PEOPLE WOULD die of thirst.

  • Harsh Asthana

    we have to drink pure water bt every drop of water is neccesary….

  • Arul Rasu Padayatchi

    we once thought it was an endless natural resource. But Now we know better.
    pls stop wasting water resources.

    • Eli Williams

      Please start spelling the full word out.

  • Sunil Kumar

    Rain harvesting is not only a solution for this… Awareness in human make anything possible…
    closing tap to using rain properly…

  • Tom Romper

    This was a great article in that it makes me mindful every time I turn on the tap. It’s also woefully misleading, in that it implies that shortening my five minute shower to let’s say three minutes, will somehow benefit people in developing countries. The reality is that unless and until water can be efficiently transported in large volumes from water-rich areas to water-poor areas, then my water footprint does not affect the global community at large (assuming obviously that I’m within a few standard deviations of average per-capita American water consumption).

    @Matt Scott, comparing my water usage to somebody in let’s say India (#31 on the list), while it may be a true statement, doesn’t actually inspire me to do anything differently. That same household in India, that uses 1/8 as much water as me is probably also highly correlated with #32, the group that has a significant number of incidences of water-borne illnesses. So the question becomes, what’s the *right* amount of water usage? The average toilet sure enough may use 8 liters a flush, but is that what it takes to ensure proper sanitation? Sure, I spend 30 seconds washing my hands and use 1-2 gallons of hot water in the process, but is that what it takes to ensure low diarrhea rates?

    For me, this article does not necessarily inspire me to use less water, but it does two other things. 1) makes me believe that increased water usage can and does help prevent disease, and 2) stresses the importance of developing aquifers, aqueducts, and other infrastructure in developing countries to allow people access to clean water.

  • Penis is


  • Penis in tylers butt……….

    Well all people need water :)

  • Penis in tylers butt……….


  • lucky boy

    I wish to give them 50 dollars and my phone number is 0507563613

  • you are a fuck

    I fuck you

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