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Human Water Uses


Water is very common on Earth but 97% of it is salty and 2% is ice. So 1% remains as liquid fresh water. That is why human beings exploit rainwater, surface and ground water.

Water is used by the agricultural sector (70% of global fresh water consumption) and industry (20% of global fresh water consumption) while domestic consumption accounts for 8 to 10%.

However, water is unequally distributed over the world:

  • 1.4 billion people do not have access to drinking water,
  • 2.3 billion people do not have access to a sanitation system that could ensure them a dignified life,
  • each year, 7 million people die of water-related diseases: water remains the first cause of death,
  • each day, 34,000 people die, 5,000 of whom are children.

There is a sharp contrast in terms of water consumption between countries: developing countries use water mainly for agricultural purposes, whereas developed countries use over a third of water for industrial purposes.

Regarding domestic consumption, rich countries consume much more water than poor countries. On average, a US and a European citizen consume respectively around 600 litres and 150 litres of water per day, whereas an African citizen only consumes an average of between 5 and 10 litres of water a day!