The United Nations warns in a new report that 2 billion people — or a quarter of humanity — lack access to safe drinking water, and nearly half the global population has no access to basic sanitation. Secretary-General António Guterres announced the findings on Wednesday as the U.N. Water Conference opened three days of meetings — the first such event in nearly half a century.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “Water is a human right — and the common development denominator to shape a better future. But water is in deep trouble. We are draining humanity’s lifeblood through vampiric overconsumption and unsustainable use and evaporating it through global heating.”
In Santiago, Chile, protesters marked World Water Day Wednesday with a march demanding access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Chile is in the grips of a 13-year megadrought, with more than half the nation’s population suffering from “severe water scarcity.” This is journalist and social activist Lucía Sepúlveda.
Lucía Sepúlveda: “We are here representing many who cannot join us, because in their territories they have no water, because they have a miserable quality of life, because the water is being taken away by logging companies, because the water is being used by single-crop plantations.”
Here in the United States, more than 2 million people lack running water and basic indoor plumbing, with renters and people of color most likely to be affected.