Lack of safe water has significant costs to societies in terms of health costs, lost economic productivity, and human suffering. For example, 14,000 to 30,000 people die each day from water-related diseases; most of these deaths are children and elderly persons. Concerns over these losses and suffering
Access to safe and reliable local water supplies is a major challenge in many communities in developing countries. Without the benefit of piped-in supplies, many people must devote part of their day to securing water for their daily needs. In this photograph, Pakistani villagers pull drinking water from a 122-meter (400-foot) well.
have spurred considerations over a human right to water. Typically, one thinks of human rights as general freedoms and a response to violence, as outlined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If the United Nations recognized water as a fundamental human right, countries would have a duty to protect and promote these rights: then international law, declarations, and state practice could support the provision of water services to all.
Many view universal access to basic water services as a fundamental condition for human and economic development. The overall lack of access existing around the world today is a failure of modern economic development efforts. The World Bank estimates that more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and over 3 billion live without access to adequate sanitation systems needed to reduce harmful water-related diseases.