Unit 3: What is a City Made Of?
When it just gushes out of a tap, water seems like the most abundant and simple of things. But providing safe water is far from simple. Safe water must be cleaned and purified and then it must get to every house through a vast network of pipes and plumbing. All of this costs money and requires investments in plumbing and purifying plants.
In many places, water is also a scarce resource. For example, in Mexico City, located high up on a dry plateau, water must be brought in from far away. Globally, 280 million urban dwellers lack access to safe drinking water, most but not all in the developing world.
"Water is going to be the most hotly contested urban issue facing the world community in the 21st century," predicts Dr. Wally N'Dow, head of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, based in Nairobi, Kenya.
The wealth of a country has much to do with its population's access to water. On average, poor countries only provide 62% of their population with water, while high-income countries deliver water to over 95% of their citizens.
Other factors also play a role. Fifty percent of drinkable water is wasted in the developing world because of old plumbing that cause leakages.
Water pollution is the biggest contributor to the urban water crisis. About 2 million tonnes of human excrement and a large volume of industrial waste seeps into urban water supplies everyday.
SEE ALSO GARBAGE
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