Dirty water kills 360 000 children annually, says UN

The UN's Stefan Uhlenbrook said untreated wastewater was an 'invisible tsunami' and a health hazard.

A massive 80% of the world’s wastewater is untreated, leading to an “invisible tsunami” that is impacting on the health of people and the ecosystem, killing about 800 000 people annually.

Coordinator and director of the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme professor Stefan Uhlenbrook revealed on Tuesday at a media briefing in Pretoria that about 360 000 children worldwide die annually from consuming dirty water.

Wastewater refers to all water of which the quality had been compromised as a result of human influence.

“This is an invisible tsunami, which we really have to digest.

“We have to change our mindset because wastewater has water that can be used for many purposes,” he said.

“It contains by-products like nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium, which are essential for plant growth and agriculture and can be used as fertiliser.”

The briefing, held by the department of water and sanitation, came before delegates from around the world met in Durban today to participate in the 2017 United Nations World Water Day summit and expo at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

The event will feature the 2017 edition of the UN’s world water development programme,  “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”.

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