U.N. study illuminates deadly global water and sanitation situation

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice — but it’s more likely to be lack of access to clean water that does us in. A U.N. report says dirty water is the second-leading cause of death among children around the world, causing 1.8 million wee ones under 5 to perish each year, and says that 2.6 billion people have no access to proper sanitation. Some countries, including Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia, spend far more on their military than on ensuring clean water and sanitation for their citizens. And in sub-Saharan Africa, a sanitation crisis has slowed economic growth by 5 percent of gross domestic product per year. The report’s authors recommend that developing countries set aside at least 1 percent of their GDP for sanitation and sewage, and say the G8 nations should increase their focus on water issues. All of which led to maybe the best New York Times headline ever: “Toilets Underused to Fight Disease, U.N. Study Finds.” We’ve been saying that all along.