About UNEP UNEP Offices News Centre Publications Events Awards Milestones UNEP Store
GEO Year Book 2003  
UNEP Website GEO Home Page
Theme: FRESHWATER

Issues: Sustainable water use
Access to improved water supply and sanitation
Indicators: Water use per capita
Water use as percentage of annual renewable resources
Proportion of population with access to improved water supply*
Proportion of population with access to improved sanitation**

*MDG indicator no. 30 under Target 10, Goal 7
**MDG indicator no. 31 under Target 10, Goal 7

Water use

The indicators of water use reflect the overall anthropogenic pressure on freshwater resources. They also give an indication of human vulnerability to water shortages and the need for adjustments in water management policies. In many areas, water use is unsustainable: withdrawal exceeds recharge rates and the water bodies are overexploited. The depletion of water resources can have negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems and, at the same time, undermine the basis for socio-economic development.

The map of per capita water use in 2000 by sub-regions (Figure 14) illustrates a high consumption, for example, in Central Asia, North America and the Mashriq. (The global average amounts to 633 m3/ capita/year.) Water use is relatively low in most African sub-regions: Southern Africa, Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Central Africa.

When relating water use to the availability of renewable water resources in the regions, countries in Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Mashriq stand out with values well over 100 per cent, indicating that more water is consumed than is available internally (Figure 15). A high percentage of use of renewable water resources is also observed in Central and South Asia.

Figure 14: Per capita water use (m3) by sub-region in 2000

Figure 15: Water use as percentage of quantity of annual renewable water resources by sub-region in 2000

Water supply and sanitation

Access to improved water supply and sanitation is absolutely crucial to human health while the availability of a reliable water supply and sanitation infrastructure helps protect water resources from overexploitation and pollution, and maintain ecosystem health.

During 1990–2000, the percentage of the world population with access to improved water supply and sanitation rose from 78 to 82 per cent and 51 to 61 per cent respectively (WHO/UNICEF 2003) (Figures 16 and 17). However, despite the progress achieved, in 2000 about 2.4 billion people still lacked access to improved sanitation and 1.1 billion lacked access to safe drinking water (UNSD 2002).

There are not enough data reported by European countries to include this region in the figures.

Figure 16: Population with access to improved water
supply (% of total) by region and global, 1990 and 2000

Figure 17: Population with access to improved sanitation (% of total) by region and global, 1990 and 2000


Earthprint.com Order the Book