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Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress – 10 of which are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on alternative sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already worsening these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.  

Goals in action

UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

Goal 6 at a glance

What are the problems in the region with water and sanitation and what are the achievements? MORE >


UNDP in Turkey

Managing the refuse of the refused

Turkey is accommodating more than two million Syrian refugees. One of the urgent challenges facing their host communities in the east is about how to manage the solid waste. MORE >

UNDP in Kyrgyzstan

The hidden cost of water

Lack of access to clean drinking water presents a serious health problem in hundreds of rural villages. MORE >


UNDP in Kazakhstan

Can the Aral Sea make a comeback?

20 years after UNDP's first intervention in the region, hope begins to blossom. MORE >

UNDP in Turkmenistan

A 100-year-old reservoir gets new life

Residents in Turkmenistan rehabilitate the Ata Eke reservoir, helping to prevent water loss, increase farming areas to their original sizes, and benefit 300 residents. MORE >

UNDP in Belarus

The wardens of Yelnya

Since 1999, efforts have been ongoing to restore and preserve Belarus' Yelnya bog. MORE >

UNDP Around the world