Clean drinking water may be regarded as a basic right but 800 million people around the world don’t have access to it. In some parts of the world, drinkable tap water is nothing more than a pipe dream and many must collect it from polluted wells, rivers and streams.
Who has access to clean tap water?
Improved or treated tap water isn’t available everywhere. More than half of the population of Somalia, Ethiopia and Madagascar don’t have access to safe drinking water. South America also struggles, with treated water only being available in limited locations. In terms of water quality, Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica have the best access to improved water, but even here, there are communities that do not have safe water on tap. Water shortages, infrastructure problems, natural disasters and pollution of water sources are cited as the primary obstacles.
Most of Asia offers access to treated water but there are still places where it is unsafe to drink it. To be safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend travellers rely on sealed, bottled water when travelling in Asia, with the exception of Hong Kong. Europe scores the highest points when it comes to clean tap water!
Which countries have the least access to treated drinking water?
Just as economic inequalities exist across the globe and within countries, we can see inequalities in access to the most straightforward need: access to clean drinking water. Even countries that are believed to supply safe drinking water may not have uninterrupted supply in certain regions. For example, in South Africa, people in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces report frequent incidents in which tap water isn’t available for as much as two days at a time, whereas the Western Cape province rarely experiences interrupted supply.
As estimated by UNICEF, five countries are home to two-thirds of the world-wide population without access to treated drinking water.
Why does my tap water taste funny?
What you drink is just as important as the amount you consume. Any strange flavors you pick up when drinking tap water come from the treatment process. Chemicals are added to make impurities suspended in the water settle out in a sedimentation process. After that, chlorine is added to kill off viruses that could cause illnesses. However, once your drinking water has left the treatment plant, there are many opportunities for contamination. Leaks in water pipes let impurities in and although you probably can’t taste it, lead contamination from old plumbing pipes and fittings could be affecting your water.
Many of the strange tastes we pick up are really tap water smells that affect the way we perceive taste. Does your tap water look, taste, or smell weird? Use this Waterlogic guide to figure out why.
Tap Water facts found by World Health Organization.