Feature Stories

The IAEA and the Water for Life Decade

IAEA and 22 UN Partners Work to Bring Clean Water to All

The United Nations is marking World Water Day (WWD) 2005 with the launch of an International Decade of Action with the theme "Water for Life". By proclaiming the period 2005-2015 as the Decade of Water, the United Nations and affiliated Governments is placing greater international focus on water and water issues. It also recommits countries to achieve the water-related targets of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation from the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000. Full Story »

Water Facts

The most ‘water-rich’ countries (with the exception of Greenland and Alaska) are: French Guiana (812,121 m³ available per person per year), Iceland (609,319 m³), Guyana (316,689 m³).

By the middle of this century: at worst seven billion people in 60 countries will be faced with water scarcity, at best 2 billion in 48 countries, depending on factors like population growth and policy-making.

Polluted waters: About 2 million tons of waste are dumped every day into rivers, lakes and streams. One litre of wastewater pollutes about eight litres of freshwater. There is an estimated 12,000 km³ of polluted water worldwide.

If pollution continues: to keep pace with population growth, the world will effectively lose 18,000 km³ of freshwater by 2050 - almost nine times the total amount countries currently use each year for irrigation.

Quality of water: the report ranks 122 countries according to the quality of their water as well as their ability and commitment to improve the situation. Belgium is considered the worst followed by Morocco, India, Jordan, Sudan, and Niger. The list of countries with the best quality is headed by Finland followed by Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Japan.

Poor countries hit hardest: The poor continue to be the worst affected, with 50% of the population in developing countries exposed to polluted water sources. Every day, 6000 people, mostly children under the age of five, die from diarrhoeal diseases.