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Access to Safe Water
Read the text, and then complete the exercises at the end.

Did You Know?

  • The adult human body is about 50 to 65 percent water. A child’s body is approximately 75 percent water. The human brain is about 75 percent water.
  • While the human body can live for weeks without food, it can only survive a few days without water.
  • 220 million urban residents in the developing world lack a source of safe drinking water near their homes.
  • Ninety percent of urban sewage in the developing world is discharged into rivers, lakes, and coastal water ways without any treatment.
  • Agriculture consumes 60 to 80 percent of the fresh water resources in most countries, and as much as 90 percent in others.

Access to Safe Water

Access to safe water is measured by the number of people who have a reasonable means of getting an adequate amount of water that is safe for drinking, washing, and essential household activities, expressed as a percentage of the total population. It reflects the health of a country’s people and the country’s capacity to collect, clean, and distribute water to consumers.

Chart 1.

Water is essential for life, yet in 1995, more than one billion people in low- and middle-income countries—and an additional 50 million people in high-income countries—lacked access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use. These numbers, as Chart 1 shows, represented 25 percent of the world’s 5.9 billion people. In addition, close to 2 billion people did not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.


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