Thirst in a Hungry World: 10 Facts about Water

Teri Mueller

Water is closely related to hunger, disaster, and poverty. Take a look at the 10 facts below to learn more!

  1. A lot of water is used to produce foods that we often take for granted. Consider that it takes 200 liters to produce a glass of milk, 70 liters to produce an apple, 140 liters to produce a cup of coffee, and 2,400 liters to produce a hamburger.1  
  2. The total amount of water generally needed to produce food for one person for one day ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 liters.2
  3. Humans are able to use only about 1% of the 70% of the earth that is covered by water.3  
  4. Water is closely connected to food security as agriculture is responsible for 70% of the water that is withdrawn by the agricultural, municipal and industrial sectors.4  
  5. It is estimated that there will be a 19% increase in agricultural water consumption by 2050 due to population growth.5  
  6. Progress has been made as advances in access to drinking water have occurred over the past few decades. The World Health Organization reports, "By the end of 2012, 89% of the global population used improved drinking water sources, a rise of 13 percentage points in 22 years or 2.3 billion people."6
  7. However, approximately 780 million people in the world still do not have access to clean drinking water. One third live in Africa and around 130 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.7
  8. Contaminated water still plays a part in 80 percent of all worldwide sickness and disease.7
  9. Children are hit especially hard by not having clean water. Shortages account for the daily deaths of more than 3,000 children under the age of five. These children die every day due to water-related illnesses like diarrhea.8
  10. Between the 1970s and 2005, the percentage of the Earth that experienced serious drought more than doubled.7

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Teri Mueller is an intern with ELCA World Hunger.

  1. "Water and Hunger," The Water Project, http://thewaterproject.org/hunger
  2. "Water and Hunger," The Voss Foundation, http://www.vossfoundation.org/therippleeffect/water-and-hunger/
  3. "Water Supply in the U.S.," United States Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/supply.html
  4. "Water for Food," U.N. Water, http://www.unwater.org/topics/water-and-food/en/
  5. "Water for Food PDF," U.N. Water, http://www.unwater.org/fileadmin/user_upload/unwater_new/docs/water_for_food.pdf
  6. "WHO/UNICEF highlight need to further reduce gaps in access to improved drinking water and sanitation," World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/jmp-report/en/
  7. "Water Facts," Food and Water Watch, https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/interesting-water-facts/
  8. "World Water Day 2013: How Shortages Affect Women, Kids, Hunger (And What You Can Do)," The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/world-water-day-2013-facts_n_2927389.html