Data and statistics

Water-related diseases

  • In the WHO European Region, 14 diarrhea deaths a day are estimated attributable to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. 
  • Globally, the number of children dying from diarrheal diseases has steadily fallen over the two last decades from about 1.5 million in 1990 to 622,000 in 2012. 
  • In 2010, about 470,000 cases of amebiasis, campylobacteriosis, cholera, cryptosporidiosis, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli infections, giardiasis, hepatitis A, legionellosis, shigellosis and typhoid fever were reported by Member States of the WHO European Region to the Centralized Information System for Infectious Diseases. The extent to which these cases are of waterborne transmission is unknown.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions can reduce diarrheal diseases by 25–35%, and significantly reduce other water-related diseases.

Access to drinking-water and sanitation

  • The WHO European Region did not meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) sanitation target in 2015. More than 62 million people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities in terms of functioning toilets and safe means to dispose of human feces.
  • Almost 1.7 million people in 11 countries practice open defecation – their feces are disposed of in fields, forest, bushes, open bodies of water, beaches or other open spaces or disposed of with solid waste. These people without access to appropriate sanitation facilities are denied the opportunity to live in a healthy environment and deprived of the human right to adequate sanitation.
  • The WHO European Region met the MDG target for drinking-water in 2015. Still, about 14 million people do not enjoy access a basic drinking-water source, and 62 million people do not have access to piped water on premises. Seven out of ten people without access to a basic drinking-water source live in rural areas. 
  • More than 4.3 million people still rely on surface water from rivers, dams, canals, streams, lakes, ponds or irrigation channels as their primary source, posing severe risks to health. Nine of ten people using surface water live in rural areas. 
  • Inequalities exist in access to drinking-water and sanitation services. Rural dwellers and the poor are the most disadvantaged. In the Caucasus and central Asia, for example, 19% of the rural population lives in homes without access to a basic drinking-water source, as opposed to only 2% of urban dwellers. Even more significantly, 62% of the rural population lacks access to piped water on premises whereas only 10% of town and city residents are similarly disadvantaged.