Almost 63 million of people living in rural areas have no access to clean water, as per a new global report released to mark World Water Day on Wednesday.
India has the maximum number of people – almost the population of the United Kingdom, who doesn’t have access to clean water, suggest – Wild Water – a report on the state of the world’s water.
The key reason for this crisis likely to be the lack of government planning, competing demands, rising population and water-draining agricultural practices are a mounting strain on water, said the WaterAid’s report.
Diseases like cholera, blinding trachoma, malaria, and dengue are likely to become more prevalent and malnutrition more rampant, the report said. The report described India as one of the world’s fastest growing economies. However, it pointed out that ensuring water security is one of the key challenges of the country.
As per India’s official Ground Water Resources Assessment, over one-sixth of the country’s groundwater supply is presently overused. “Droughts have become almost a way of life in the Bundelkhand region of North-Central India. Here, three consecutive droughts have pushed millions of people into a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty,” it said.
The report also warns about the implications of extreme weather events and climate change. “India ranks in the top 38 per cent of countries worldwide most vulnerable to climate change and least ready to adapt, according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index. With 67% of the country’s population living in rural areas and 7 per cent of the rural population even now living without access to clean water, India’s rural poor are highly vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events and climate change,” it said.
Today, 663 million people internationally are without clean water and the vast majority of them, 522 million – live in rural areas.
“This World Water Day, WaterAid is calling on the government to deliver its promise to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, including ensuring access to safe water as part of Goal 6 to everyone, everywhere. Along with access to safe water, it is critical that communities have the necessary tools, infrastructure and preparedness to deal with the effects of extreme weather events and climate change,” said WaterAid India’s chief executive VK Madhavan.
“These communities face particular challenges in gaining access to water due to isolated locations, inadequate infrastructure and a continued lack of funding,” he added.