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World Water Day 2015: Millions of people in the WHO European Region rely on water of unknown quality

WECF: Regulations on small-scale water supplies need to be improved and implemented. Joint efforts are needed towards increased safe water supply

20.03.2015 |




In the WHO European Region, small-scale water supplies serve about 200 million people (23%). About half of these supplies are managed by people who havenít been trained to operate water supplies. And in many countries, the supplies are not monitored on water quality at all.


Lack of monitoring and data

65 million people (8%) make use of water from individual wells, non-piped supplies or supplies serving up to 50 people. In many countries, these supplies are not monitored on water quality at all. The European Union allows Member States to exempt water supplies serving up to 50 people from regulations of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD), unless the supply is used for commercial purposes. Hence, 44 percent of the Member States make use of this exemption and millions of people rely on water of unknown quality.
 
In the WHO European Region, registration of disease outbreaks related to small-scale water supplies is very limited. In approximately 50 percent of the countries, no epidemiological data exist on these outbreaks.
  

Possible improvements

A lot of improvements are still needed to fulfill the human right to safe water. Even in the WHO European region, including the European Union. Simple and affordable solutions are needed, especially in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.

For instance, the introduction of portable laboratories could be a first step in making a rapid assessment of the water quality in rural areas, followed by a risk assessment of the supply systems and training of water operators to accomplish a Water Safety Plan (WSP) for their system. For more information on developing a WSP in a rural community, click here.


For more information on this issue, please download the draft report on results of a survey conducted under the Protocol on Water and Health.
 


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