"The sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars."
, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2010
In a new study entitled "Sick Water" released for World Water Day
, the UNEP reported that a lack of clean water is killing 1.8 million children younger than five every year. According to the report, the 2 million tons of waste, which contaminate over 2 billion tons of water daily, have left huge "dead zones" in the ocean, choking coral reefs and decimating many fish populations. This waste, which consists mostly of sewage, industrial pollution, pesticides from agriculture and animal waste, comes mostly from developing countries, which dump 90 percent of their wastewater untreated.
This dirty water is in turn blamed for the spread of various diseases, such as diarrhea, that kill about 2.2 million people a year.
The UNEP report recommends water recycling systems and multimillion or multibillion dollar water sewage treatment systems to help improve the clean water systems in developing countries. They also suggest protecting wetlands, which act as natural waste processors, and saving animal waste to use as fertilizer.
According to Achim Steiner, UNEP director, "If the world is to ... survive on a planet of six billion people heading to over nine billion by 2050, we need to get smarter about how we manage wastewater. Wastewater is quite literally killing people."