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Water Harvesting

Home > Programmes > Water Harvesting


Water Harvesting




Name: Water Harvesting
Theme: Region and Country: Maharashtra, India
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Related Resources:

Rain Water Harvesting in Tamil Nadu

Rain Water Harvesting

Rain Water Harvesting

RainHarvesting Systems

Water Harvesting Program

Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Program

RainWater Harvesting



“The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses” General Comment No. 15 (2002): The Right to Water

"Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health. I often refer to it as “Health 101”, which means that once we can secure access to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people, irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won."  
Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, World Health Organization

“We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or any of the other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.”  Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

"I am utterly convinced that the number of water taps per 1,000 population will be an infinitely more meaningful health indicator than the number of hospital beds per 1,000 population." Dr. Halfdan Mahler, Director-General, World Health Organization


WHO | Water Sanitation & Health
WHO Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) series.

This series focuses on health related goals, indicators, and targets. The one page MDG flyers focusing on water and sanitation, highlighting Goal 7 are now available in English, French and Spanish: These are:

Health through safe drinking water and basic sanitation
Health through integrated water resources management
Health through safe health care: safe water, basic sanitation


UN | Water for Life, 2005-2015 - International Decade for Action

  Video: "Water for Life"
produced by Global Visions [English] [French]  Real Player download
Booklet for the International "Water for Life" Decade Booklet for the International "Water for Life" Decadepdf 20 pages 2.1 mb

Water is essential for life.
Yet many millions of people around the world face water shortages. Many millions of children die every year from water-borne diseases. And drought regularly afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries. The world needs to respond much better. We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management. We need to make sanitation a priority. This is where progress is lagging most.

Kofi A. Annan, 22 March 2005


WHO | Water, Sanitation and Hygiene links to Health: Facts and Figures
updated November 2004 WHO Water, sanitation and hygiene links to health: facts and figures29 kb
  • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries.
  • 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
  • Improved water supply reduces diarrhoea morbidity by between 6% to 25%, if severe outcomes are included.
  • Improved sanitation reduces diarrhoea morbidity by 32%.
  • Hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion of hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up to 45%.
  • Improvements in drinking-water quality through household water treatment, such as chlorination at point of use, can lead to a reduction of diarrhoea episodes by between 35% and 39%.



WHO | Guidelines for drinking-water quality

WHO | Guidelines for drinking-water quality, third edition  WHO | Guidelines for drinking-water quality, third edition5.34 mb

Drinking-water quality is an issue of concern for human health in developing and developed countries world-wide. The risks arise from infectious agents, toxic chemicals and radiological hazards. Experience highlights the value of preventive management approaches spanning from water resource to consumer.

WHO produces international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries world-wide.

You can link here to:

Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, 3rd (current) edition
Index of background documents on chemical hazards in drinking-water
Rolling revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality
Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, 2nd & previous editions
Training material on drinking-water quality

Other guidelines that deal with:
Safe recreational (bathing) waters
Safe use of wastewater, excreta and grey water

Other information that may be of interest
Water resources quality
Emerging issues in water and infectious disease
Arsenic in drinking-water
Information flyer on the 3rd edition of the guidelines [pdf 590kb]
Water for health brochure


Page Links

Water Facts and Figures
 | Loss of Labor | Water and Farming  |  Enough for survival enough for health

Back to Other Facts

Off-Site Links


Water, Sanitation and Health
WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene where the health burden is high, where interventions could make a major difference and where the present state of knowledge is poor:

:: Drinking-water quality
:: Bathing waters
:: Water resource quality
:: Water supply and sanitation monitoring
:: Water, sanitation and hygiene development
:: Wastewater use
:: Water-related disease
:: Healthcare waste
:: Health in water resources development
:: Emerging issues in water and infectious disease


Health Topics: Diarrhoea
Fact Sheets, links to descriptions of activities, reports, news and events and links to related web sites and topics.

Water-related diseases
Diarrhoea occurs world-wide and causes 4% of all deaths and 5% of health loss to disability.

Household water
The International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage

Drinking Water Quality
Contaminated drinking water contributes to disease in developing and developed countries worldwide.

The International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) interventions can lead to dramatic improvements in drinking water quality and reductions in diarrhoeal disease

WHO Child Health

Water and sanitation related diseases fact sheets

Oneworld Water and Sanitation


World Water Council World Water Vision

Making Water Everybody's Business 
by William Cosgrove and Frank Rijsberman

Launched at the Second World Water Forum in the Hague March 2000

Leaflet - pdf format - doc format

Making Water Everybody's Business

  • More than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.

  • More than half the population do not have access to adequate sanitation.

  • At least 3-4 million people die every year of water related diseases.

  • More than half the worlds wetlands were destroyed during the last century.

    Order your copy -- Includes a free CD-ROM





Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target: 
A mid-term assessment of progress

26 August, 2004

In adopting the Millennium Development Goals that address the most pressing development issues, countries pledged to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Yet, more than 1 billion people today lack safe drinking water, and some 2.6 billion - half of the developing world - lack improved sanitation. This publication reports on our progress towards the MDG goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. It seeks to encourage countries slow to meet the target to accelerate action, and highlights areas where efforts need to be strengthened in order to meet the goal. 

UN Water Report Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target
Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target


More information: 

Why world's taps are running dry

Water Facts: The Big Picture 
Water Facts - The Big picture  A statistical view of the world's water - BBC News 

Water Facts - The Big picture

World's water hot spots
From disappearing lakes and dwindling rivers to military threats over shared resources, water is a cause for deep concern in many parts of the world. Supplies are threatened by overuse, bad management and changing weather patterns. The pressure will only increase as populations grow. 

more info 


Water Facts and Figures

  • 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.
  • 2.4 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, about two-fifths of the world’s population.
  • 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
  • Some 6,000 children die every day from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene – equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.
  • At any one time it is estimated that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.
  • 200 million people in the world are infected with schistosomiasis, of whom 20 million suffer severe consequences. The disease is still found in 74 countries of the world. Scientific studies show that a 77% reduction of incidence from the disease was achieved through well designed water and sanitation interventions.
  • The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 km.
  • The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is the equivalent of your airport luggage allowance (20kg).
  • The average person in the developing world uses 10 litres of water a day.
  • The average person in the United Kingdom uses 135 litres of water every day.
  • One flush of your toilet uses as much water as the average person in the developing world uses for a whole day’s washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.
  • Comparative costs: In Europe $11 billion is spent each year on ice cream; in USA and Europe, $17 billion is spent on pet food; in Europe $105 billion is spent annually on alcoholic drinks, ten times the amount required to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
  • In the past 10 years diarrhoea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
  • In China, India and Indonesia twice as many people are dying from diarrhoeal diseases as from HIV/AIDS.
  • In 1998, 308,000 people died from war in Africa, but more than two million (six times as many) died of diarrhoeal disease.
  • The population of the Kibeira slum in Nairobi, Kenya pay up to five times the price for a litre of water than the average American citizen.
  • An estimated 25% of people in developing country cities use water vendors purchasing their water at significantly higher prices than piped water.
  • Projections for 2025 indicate that the number of people living in water-stressed countries will increase to 3 billion – a six-fold increase. Today, 470 million people live in regions where severe shortages exist.
  • The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoeal disease by one-third.
  • Following the introduction of the Guatemalan Handwashing Initiative in 1998, there were 322,000 fewer cases of diarrhoea each year amongst the 1.5 million children under 5 nationwide in the country's lowest income groups.
  • In Zambia, one in five children die before their fifth birthday. In contrast in the UK fewer than 1% of children die before they reach the age of five.
  • A study in Karachi found that people living in areas without adequate sanitation who had no hygiene education spend six times more on medical treatments than those with sanitation facilities.
  • Waterborne diseases (the consequence of a combination of lack of clean water supply and inadequate sanitation) cost the Indian economy 73 million working days a year. And a cholera outbreak in Peru in the early 1990s cost the economy US$1 billion in lost tourism and agricultural exports in just 10 weeks.
  • Improved water quality reduces childhood diarrhoea by 15-20% BUT better hygiene through handwashing and safe food handling reduces it by 35% AND safe disposal of children’s faeces leads to a reduction of nearly 40%.
  • At any time, 1.5 billion people suffer from parasitic worm infections stemming from human excreta and solid wastes in the environment. Intestinal worms can be controlled through better sanitation, hygiene and water. These parasites can lead to malnutrition, anaemia and retarded growth, depending upon the severity of the infection.
  • It is estimated that pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and malaria, which account for 20% of global disease burden, receive less than 1% of total public and private funds devoted to health research.
  • Ecological sanitation is one option being practised in some communities in China, Mexico, Vietnam, etc. Excreta contains valuable nutrients. We produce 4.56 kg nitrogen, 0.55 kg phosphorous, and 1.28 kg potassium per person per year from faeces and urine. This is enough to produce wheat and maize for one person every year.
  • One gramme of faeces can contains:10,000,000 Viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, 100 parasite eggs.

For more information, check

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council c/o WHO (CCW), 20 Avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. Tel. +41 22 791 3544, fax +41 22 791 4847, e-mail: [email protected]


  • 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25: WaterAid
  • 6, 25: WELL Technical Brief (
  • 16: Water for African Cities presentation, Stockholm Water Symposium, August 2001
  • 12: Vision 21 – Water For People, March 2000, WSSCC
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 19: WHO/UNICEF/WSSCC Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report
  • 17: WELL Planned Work studies 163 and 164.
  • 20: Saad´┐Ż et al (2001) The Story of a Successful Public-Private Partnership in Central America: Handwashing for Diarroheal Disease Prevention. BASICS, EHP, UNICEF, USAID and The World Bank
  • 27: (Esrey and Andersson (1999), Environmental Sanitation from an Ecological Systems Approach. See:
  • 26: (10/90 Report on Health Research, 2000. Global Forum for Health Research)
  • 18: (IHE Newsletter, January 2001)
  • 28: (Advocating Sanitation - how, why and when? Sanitation Connection:


Loss of Labor

Those who are ill cannot work productively, but even among those who are well, tremendous time and energy are wasted in the daily search for water.

  • In one village in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa mothers walk for two to three hours a day to find a river or stagnant pond, and return to their homes carrying 25 kilograms(55 lbs.) of water in earthenware jugs on the heads.

  • In some slums surrounding the cities of developing countries, families often have to spend 10% of their income to buy water for household needs.


Water and Farming
Agriculture accounts for 70% of total global fresh water use.

1/3 of today's harvest comes from 17% of the world's cropland that is irrigated. Irrigation thus greatly helps meet the challenge of feeding an ever-growing population.

Worldwatch Paper 62

Irrigation can also degrade the soil. Much irrigation water is salty, causing an increased need for fertilizers.

Beyond Oil

Shrinking inland seas are a dramatic consequence of large water withdrawals to meet irrigation and other water demands. An equally grave threat is the quiet loss of fish and other aquatic life from rivers and streams whose altered flow patterns can no longer sustain them.

Raising irrigation efficiencies worldwide by just 10% would save enough water to supply all global residential water uses.

Worldwatch Paper 62

Enough for survival enough for health

Two thirds of our bodies weight and nine tenths of its volume is water.

That is why water essential for life. People can survive for up to two months without food, but die within three days without water

A person needs about 5 litres of water each day for cooking and drinking. But the World Bank estimates that a further 25-45 litres are needed for each person to stay clean and healthy. In many places the family's water must be fetched each day by women or children.


In Kenya alone, it is estimated that 3 million women each spend an average of 3 hours a days on the single task to fetching water - that equals 9 million hours daily.

Is There a Better Way?

  • The most a woman can carry in comfort is 15 litres, each litre weighing one kilogram.

  • If she carries only enough water for her family (husband, mother, five children) to survive each day, she would need to fetch about 40 litres.

  • But to keep them all clean and healthy she would need to fetch 200 litres of water every day.

This is why the amount of water consumed depends largely on whether it has to be carried to the house.  


Type of Facility

Approximate consumption per person in 10-litre buckets.

No tap or standpipe 1.2


Meanwhile people in the industrialised world use

  • 22 litres each time a toilet is flushed

  • 150,000 litres to produce a ton of steel

  • 750,000 litres to produce a ton of newsprint


  • Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades, A Summary Report. 1986. Carrying Capacity. Inc., 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 1002, Washington, D.C. 20005.

  • Courier, January 1985, a publication of UNESCO, 7 Place de Fentenoy, 75700 Paris.

  • Decade Watch, International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, published quarterly by the United Nations Development Programme. Division of Information, One UN Plaza. New York, NY 10017.

  • EPA Journal, Vol. 12 No. 7, September 1986 and Vol. 11. No. 7, September 1985, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Public Affairs, Washington. DC 20460.

  • Is There a Better Way? June 1985, United Nations Development Program, Division of Information, New York, New York 10017.

  • The New Internationalist, No. 103, September 1981, 175 Carlton St., Toronto. Ontario M5A 2K3; for subscription enquiries: P O Box 1143, Lewiston, NY 14092.

  • The Real Cost, Richard North, 1986, Chatto and Windus Ltd., 40 William IV Street. London WC2N 4DF.

  • State Government News, Vol. 29 No. 5, June 1986, The Council of State Governments. Iron Works Pike, P O Box 11910, Lexington, KY 40578.

  • World Military & Social Expenditures 1986, Ruth Leger Sivard, World Priorities, Inc., Box 25140, Washington, DC 20007. Worldwatch Paper 62 Water: Rethinking Management in an Age of Scarcity, December 1984 and

  • Worldwatch Paper 64 Investing In Children, June 1985, The Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.


Produced by
Office on Global Education, National Council of Churches,
2115 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218- 5755
A Program of the Divisions of Education and Ministry, and Church World Service


Water Related Links

World Water Day 2005
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization;
presentations of the WWD 2005
World Health Organization; an advocacy guide

Management of Water Resources
United Nations Development Programme; UNPD and Water
World Water Council; Making Water Everybody’s Business
UNESCO; World Water Assessment Programme
The 4th World Water Forum, 2006

International Year of Freshwater, 2003
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Freshwater, interagency activities
Freshwater Resources at UNEP
Dushanbe International Freshwater Forum, Dushanbe Water Appeal

Water-related issues and Education
UNESCO: Education for sustainable development 
United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004

Water and Disasters
Water World Day 2004, Water and Disasters
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; news

Water and Sanitation
WHO: Water, Sanitation and Health


Calendar of the UN water-related events
UN Millennium Project
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
United Nations Library
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Small Islands, Big Issues

Media Information
Press Releases/Statements and Media inquiries
UN Newscentre





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