Expanding Access to Clean Water in the Developing World

United Nations Human Rights Council
Expanding Access to Clean Water in the Developing World
As the human population grows, water quality and access has become a pressing global
issue. Indigent quality of drinking water can easily be influenced by environmental hazards;
Eutrophication, which is the presence of high nutrient composition in water due to domestic
sewage, agricultural runoff, atmospheric inputs, and industrial pollution, is a prevalent issue
concerning water quality. Soil erosion, a devastated ecosystem, and rapid deforestation, all also
contribute to water quality issues.
A decent amount of the dilemma stems from a sizable amount of the population residing
in an area where freshwater is not readily available, especially in developing countries and rural
areas, and where the infrastructure to process the water does not exist. Without proper
infrastructure, access shrinks exponentially, sanitation declines, and the risk for disease is
heightened. The lack of sanitation infrastructure plays a huge role in the spread of disease;
contaminated waters are filled with disease-causing organisms, such as dysentery, hepatitis, and
cholera. The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) reports approximately over 2 billion cases
of diarrheal disease every year in developing nations, with the worst cases affecting young
children less than 2 years old.
Households in rural or developing areas are often left to fend for themselves when it
comes to accessing clean drinking water. Families in these situations, mostly women and
children, are sometimes forced to travel considerable distances, only to gather water from unsafe
sources. Families who reside in surrounding cities or slums of developing nations often never
have access to piped water due to the lack of infrastructure. On some occasions governments will
allow local vendors to buy water at a subsidized price resell it at a premium. Because demand
always outweighs supply, these vendors often operate without the worry of regulations, selling
unsafe, sanitized water at a highly inflated price.
The UN has established several committees to raise awareness for increasing access to
clean water on a global scale. On March 22, 2010, the UN created World Water Day to focus
attention toward the importance of working to sustain freshwater water quality. The UN
Taskforce on wastewater management, which was created in 2009, was created to raise
awareness and combat issues concerning wastewater management by targeting specific
governments within UN nations.
Questions to Consider:
1) In what ways can your individual country work to improve sanitation within itself and on
a global scale?
2) In what ways can clean water access be expanded to rural areas within developing
3) In what ways can infrastructure be modernized within your individual country and
developing countries?
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