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Nine in 10 Have Safe Drinking as UN Sanitation Goal Lags

The world has met a target of halving the number of people without clean water earlier than a 2015 deadline, as almost nine in 10 people worldwide have access to safe drinking water, the United Nations said.

About 6.1 billion people had access to safe drinking water at the end of 2010, meeting one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals set in 2000, Unicef and the World Health Organization said in a report today. The number increased by 2 billion people between 1990 and 2010.

“Providing sustainable access to improved drinking water sources is one of the most important things we can to do reduce disease,” Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, said in the statement. More than 3,000 children die each day from diarrhea-related diseases, Unicef said.

Still, the world will probably miss a goal of halving the number of people without basic sanitation as 2.5 billion people still lack such access, the two agencies said. Only 67 percent of the world’s population will probably have improved sanitation facilities by 2015, compared with a target of 75 percent, they said in the report.

Global measurements of water quality aren’t possible and the report is based on improvements in drinking water sources, Unicef and the WHO said.

More than 40 percent of those without access to drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa.

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