Water in developing countries

Clean, accessible water is critical to human health, a healthy environment, poverty reduction, a sustainable economy, and peace and security. Yet over 40% of the global population does not have access to sufficient clean water. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, according to UN-Water. The lack of water poses a major threat to several sectors, including food security. Agriculture uses about 70% of the world’s accessible freshwater.

Developing countries are most affected by water shortages, flooding and poor water quality. Up to 80% of illnesses in the developing world are linked to inadequate water and sanitation. In many countries, pollution or rising sea levels are contaminating trusted water sources. Water stress and lack of sanitation disproportionately affect women and girls. These factors can alter their health, safety and opportunity to engage in economic activities. Women and girls are often the primary managers of natural resources, particularly for household use and small-scale agriculture. They are key change agents in sustainable water management practices.

Global efforts to address water issues

Together, countries are working toward the goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Water targets are included across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6 specifically aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, setting out the following objectives for joint action:

Our support for water initiatives in developing countries

Water directly affects many issues critical to promoting sustainable development, including the economy, agriculture, health, trade, energy, and peace and security. As part of its international assistance, Canada supports sustainable water resources management and governance in developing countries. It aids efforts to increase access to safe water and adequate sanitation, including menstrual hygiene. Canada’s water programming contributes to health, education, food security and economic growth outcomes for the poorest and most vulnerable. This programming particularly helps women and girls.

Here are just a few examples of water initiatives being supported by Canada.

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