Picturing a World Without Water

A WaterAid photo montage for their campaign to End Water Poverty recently caught my eye.

The image was released at the end of last month during the first annual meeting, in Washington, D.C., of the United Nation’s (UN) initiative on Sanitation and Water for All.

According to a UN report released around the same time, development money for water projects is shrinking while the number of people without access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation facilities keeps growing.

The GLAAS (Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water) report is a jargony policy document, but it does have some interesting numbers. Financial assistance for water and sanitation projects–as measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Develoment (OECD)–fell from 8 percent to 5 percent of total development aid between 1997 and 2008. And, less than half of the money for water and sanitation projects goes to low-income countries.

The question the experts never seem to answer up front, however, is why? Why hasn’t the sanitation and drinking water situation gotten any better over the last decade of advocacy? And why is funding drying up? (Perhaps the answers are buried in the report?)

For more news on the water crisis, visit National Geographic’s freshwater website.

Montage created by Saddington & Baynes for WaterAid and End Water Poverty

[This post has been reformatted for Water Currents.]

Changing Planet

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Tasha Eichenseher is the Environment Producer and Editor for National Geographic Digital Media. She has covered water issues for a wide range of media outlets, including E/The Environment Magazine, Environmental Science & Technology online news, Greenwire, Green Guide, and National Geographic News.