U.N. says 2 billion more people get safe water to drink

Tue Mar 6, 2012 6:36am EST
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By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 2 billion people have gained access to better drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells, between 1990 and 2010, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.

The figure means the world has met the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve the proportion of people with no safe drinking water well ahead of a 2015 deadline, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this was "a great achievement for the people of the world" and noted it was one of the first MDGs to be met.

The Millennium Development Goals are a group of targets set by the international community in 2000 to seek to improve health and reduce poverty among the world's poorest people by 2015.

"The successful efforts to provide greater access to drinking water are a testament to all who see the MDGs not as a dream, but as a vital tool for improving the lives of millions," Ban said in a statement.

A report by the U.N. children's fund UNICEF and the WHO found that at the end of 2010, 89 percent of the world's population, or 6.1 billion people, had access to improved drinking water - higher than the 88 percent MDG target.

The report estimates that by 2015, 92 percent of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.

"For children this is especially good news," UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement. "Every day more than 3,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. Achieving this goal will go a long way to saving children's lives."   Continued...