Water-related diseases may kill 76m people by 2020
By Colleen Valles
San Franciseo: As many as 76 million people - mostly children could die from water related diseases by 2020 if changes aren't mate worldwide, according to a California think tank.
The United Nations has set a goal of 2015 for cutting in half the number of people who can't reach or afford safe drinking water Even if that goal is met, 34 million to 76 million people could die of water-related illnesses, said a report for release Friday by the independent Pacific Institute for Studies in Development Environment and Security.
More people die of diarrheal diseases, such as dysentery than other water related diseases and children are extremely vulnerable to them.
"All of these diseases are associated with our failure to provide clean water '' said Dr. Peter Gleick. director of the institute. "I think it's terribly bleak, especially because we know what needs to be done to prevent these deaths. We're doing some1 of it, but the efforts that are being made ale not aggressive enough.
The problem is many people, especially those in developing countries ill sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, do not have access to clean water or basic sanitation, Gleick said.
While most of the deaths are projected to occur n developing nations, Joan Rose, professor of water microbiology at the University of South F1nlosidcln said every country is vulnerable. She pointed to a recent deadly outbreak of E coli in Canada that came from a contaminated well.
The institute will send the report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development being held Aug. 26 through Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa.