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World Water Day 2018: Over 800 million still travel for 30 mins to have access to safe drinking water
Serving as a wake up call ahead of the observance of World Water Day on March 22, a report has raised alarming concerns over the increasing water inequality in world's most economically stressed nations.

According to the report titled "The Water Gap – The State of the World's Water 2018", more than 800 million people have to travel and queue for at least 30 minutes to have access to safe drinking water.

The world's attention was recently shifted towards this problem with the media reporting on the acute shortage of water in Cape Town. It had been reported that Cape Town which had been reeling under the worst droughts ever would soon run out of water some time in late April, being dubbed as "Day Zero".

The report which was published by the NGO Water Aid, on Wednesday, says that communities in many regions are accustomed to standing in queues for water with limited supplies.

The worst affected country in the world is the northern African nation Eritrea. Only 19 per cent of the country's population has basic access to water. Eritrea is followed by Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, all countries with rates ranging from 37 per cent to 40 per cent. It also doesn't come as a surprise that most of these countries have a large number of refugees living in makeshift shelters.

Furthermore, there are also considerable variations within countries also governed by factors like income disparities etc. For example, in Niger while 41 per cent of the poorest population doesn't have access to drinking water, 72 per cent of its wealthiest population does.

Lisa Schechtman, the director of policy and advocacy for WaterAid says, "Inequality in access to water is growing primarily as a result of a lack of political will. There is a risk of leaving people behind, particularly in remote rural areas and among displaced communities."

Another factor associated with this problem is of gender, as women in most cases bear the brunt by being assigned with the difficult task of collecting water. Fetching the UN-recommended 50-litres per day of water for a family of four consumes two-and-a-half-months of their time each year.

Although there has been an improvement with the world population's access to clean water rising from 81 per cent to 89 per cent since 2000, but that still leaves 844 million people who have to form queues or travel for at least 30 minutes to the nearest safe source of water.

However, there is also a silver lining in the cloud with two of Asia's biggest nations having made enormous strides in the area, namely India and China. While China provided access to water to 334 million more people between 2000 and 2015, it was followed by India with 301 million.

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