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Backgrounder: State of the world's water resources (2)

(Xinhua)

14:37, March 13, 2012

The world population is predicted to grow to 8.3 billion in 2030 and to 9.1 billion in 2050 and the urban population is forecast to reach 6.3 billion people in 2050 from 3.4 billion in 2009, adding more pressure on the scarce resource.

Over 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources between 1999 and 2010, according to another UN report. But the WWDR said there are 884 million people still using unimproved sources for drinking water and 2.6 billion people without access to improved sanitation. Some estimate 3 billion to 4 billion people do not have access to safe and reliable tap water in their homes.

Water-related hazards account for 90 percent of all natural hazards and are happening with greater frequency and intensity.

As to water quality, human health risks constitute the major concern. Each year, about 3.5 million deaths are related to inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene, mainly in developing countries.

It is estimated that over 80 percent of waste water worldwide is not collected or treated, and urban settlements are the main source of point-source pollution.

Global climate change is expected to exacerbate strains on water resources and increase the frequency and severity of droughts and floods.

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