The world’s poor pay much more for water than the wealthy, and the water they get is often severely contaminated, according to a report published last week by the UN-affiliated World Commission on Water for the 21st Century. Government-subsidized water systems tend to reach wealthier citizens first and bypass the poor, even though they are often built with international aid intended to help poor citizens. The poor are then forced to buy water from private dealers, many of whom draw from contaminated sources and charge high prices. The commission estimates that 1.2 billion people don’t have access to clean water.

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