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  • A farmer carries buckets of water in Palyitas town, Nicaragua, March 3, 2016.

    A farmer carries buckets of water in Palyitas town, Nicaragua, March 3, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

The majority of those affected by poor water access are from rural areas, who are also more likely to be severely hit by future climate change. 

More than half a billion people have no access to clean drinking water, according to a report released Wednesday to coincide with World Water Day.

IN DEPTH:
World Water Day

Water Aid’s report “Wild Water” said that “663 million people globally are still without clean water, and the vast majority of them – 522 million – live in rural areas.”

Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar topped the list for countries with the highest percentage of rural populations without potable water. In Angola, a staggering 71.8 percent of its rural population was estimated to lack access.

In the world’s most populous country, China, around 43.7 million people living in rural areas lack access to clean water. India has the largest number of people affected by water access in the world, where around 63.4 million rural inhabitants lack access.

Amid the future threat from climate change and extreme weather changes, many poorer countries were predicted to bear the brunt of droughts, cyclones and floods which would create conditions of “severe water stress” for millions of people.

Water aid has called on governments around the world to help alleviate and prevent the problems associated with poor water access, which range from diseases to malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty.

“Tough competition for limited water resources, and poor decision-making by governments and utilities on prioritizing how those resources are used, are already making it hard for the world’s poorest people to access clean water,” the charity said.

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Since 1993, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated March 22 as World Water Day in a bid to raise awareness about water access and strategies to tackle the global water crisis.

In 2015, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals were launched, with the target to ensure everyone has access to water by 2030.

“If we do not address existing challenges to water security and ensure everyone everywhere has reliable access to safe water by 2030, the threats posed by climate change could be devastating for us all,” Water Aid said.

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