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The right water and the right to water
  1. J J Miranda
  1. International Health and Medical Education Centre, University College London, London N19 5LW, UK; j.miranda{at}

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    Twenty per cent of the world’s population lack access to clean water, 80% of them being rural dwellers. Some 2.3 billion people each year suffer from diseases linked to water, and a child dies every eight seconds from contaminated water. Clean and safe water has been considered an important step towards development. In fact, the single public health intervention that achieved most in the 20th century was an improvement in water and sanitation. In November 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights issued a statement declaring access to water a human right and stating that water is a social and cultural good, not merely an economic commodity. The image, from the Peruvian rainforest, shows a water barrel, and, next to it, smaller containers for cooking, washing, and cleaning. Malaria, diarrhoea, and malnutrition are the area’s neighbours.

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