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India, Pak, Uganda among world's poorest in access to clean water

New Delhi : Notwithstanding the efforts made by the Government in ensuring that people across the country get access to safe drinking water, India still has been ranked at the country with the most number of people without clean water.

In fact, India has been put in the company of neighbouring Pakistan and three African countries - Uganda, Niger, Mozambique - where the highest percentage or largest number of people cannot easily get clean water, according to a new report released by international charity organisation WaterAid.

Shockingly, WaterAid's report - State of the world's water 2018: The water gap - reveals that the number of people living without access to clean water is rising. Almost 60 per cent of the people now lives in water stressed areas.

While Cape Town races to avoid ‘Day Zero,’ when taps will run dry, the report reveals millions around the world already face these conditions daily.

The report, released on March 22 for World Water Day, also includes new data on the sizeable gap between rich and poor when it comes to water access.

Some 844 million people are now struggling to access life’s most essential requirement – an increase of nearly 200 million from last year. The increase reflects a stricter definition of access by the Unicef-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme. Access is now defined as being able to collect water within a 30-minute round trip of home.

“The bottom line is, we aren’t making progress fast enough. It’s shocking that 60 per cent of the people on this planet are living in water stressed areas, a number that’s only expected to increase. We must do better. Without water and sanitation, none of the goals to alleviate poverty, improve health and create a fairer and more sustainable world, will be achieved. Water as a human right that can no longer be ignored", said WaterAid CEO Sarina Prabasi.

Consider this: a woman collecting the UN-recommended amount of 50 liters per person for her family of four from a water source 30 minutes away would spend two and a half months a year on this task. This prevents her from earning an education, earning a living, and even from political participation. In turn, it limits economic growth worldwide.

The report reveals that Eritrea, Papua New Guinea and Uganda are the three countries with lowest access to clean water close to home, with Uganda a new addition to the list this year at 38 per cent access.

Mozambique ranks fourth in the table of countries making greatest progress in water provision, but remains 10th in the world for lowest access to water. Its capital city, Maputo, is currently experiencing severe water shortages and is now preparing for rationing.

Almost every country struggling to provide its people with clean water also has a huge gap in access between rich and poor. For instance, in Niger, only 41 per cent of the poorest people have access to water, while 72 per cent of its wealthiest do. In neighboring Mali, the gap widens to 45 per cent and 93 per cent, respectively.

India, though it still home to the most people without clean water, is also near the top of the list for most people reached: more than 300 million since 2000 — nearly equivalent to the population of the United States.

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