Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

What you eat as important as what you drink

UN-Photo-Kibae-ParkPreservation of water, does that mean we should drink less water? Perhaps that might help, but strange as it seems, giving a thought to what you eat might be more useful. On average each of us drinks 2-4 liters of water every day.
However that is dwarfed by these statistics:

To produce:

1 kilo of beef takes    15,500 liters

1 kilo of porc:             4,900

1 kilo of chicken       4,000

1 kilo of cheese:         3,000

1 kilo of rice:               3,000

1 kilo of wheat:           1,500

If you are a resident of rain soaked North-Western Europe you may still be unimpressed but the fact of the matter is that the water consumed in agricultural products such as these may well come from areas of the world or even Europe that experience considerable water stress.

Europe is not excluded by any means from lack of access to clean water. According to WHO (The World Health Organization) 120 million people in the pan-European region suffer from lack of access to safe clean water and sanitation. These problems are especially acute in rural and remote areas in Eastern Europe but according to a new report by the European Environment Agency in 60% of European urban and industrial areas, water resources are overexploited. 

This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. Much of the food consumed in Europe is imported. UN Water is focusing its campaign for World Water Day 2012 on the slogan: "The world is thirsty, because we are hungry".

"When a billion people in the world already live in chronic hunger and water resources are under pressure we cannot pretend the problem is 'elsewhere'," states UN Water.

To cope with population growth and to ensure access to nutritious food for everyone, UN Water urges all of us to take a series of actions, such as:

Consume less water-intensive products;

Reduce scandalous food waste: 30% of the food produced

worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!

Produce more food, of better quality, with less water.

In other words, the problem is more about what is on your plate than in your glass.

For further information see:

Related Links:

cinema icon3 Questions to Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Member of the High-level Panel on Sustainable Development.


  • 97 % of earth’s water is in the oceans. Only 3 % of the earth’s water can be used as drinking water. 75 % of the world’s fresh water is frozen in the polar ice caps.

  • 884 million people still do not have access to safe drinking water. However, 1.7 billion have gained such access since 1990.

  • The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 kilometres.

  • 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.

  • Each day 5,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases.

  • Average water use ranges from 200-300 litres a person a day in most countries in Europe to less than 10 litres in countries such as Mozambique

  • People living in the slums of Jakarta, Manila and Nairobi pay 5 to 10 times more for water than those living in high-income areas in those same cities and more than consumers in London or New York.

  • In Manila, the cost of connecting to the utility represents about three months' income for the poorest 20% of households, rising to six months' in urban Kenya.

  • In many places of the world, a staggering 30 to 40% of water or more goes unaccounted for due to water leakages in pipes and canals and illegal tapping.

  • The production of 1 kilogram of:
    o rice requires 3,000 litres of water
    o maize requires 900 litres of water
    o wheat requires 1,350 litres of water
    o beef requires 16,000 litres of water
  • Between now and 2025, it is expected that the world will need 17% more water to grow food for the increasing populations in developing countries and that total water use will increase by some 40%.


1st United Nations World Water Development Report 'Water for People, Water for Life' (WWDR1, 2003),
the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) publication "Global Population and Water: Access and Sustainability"
and NASA Earth Observatory’s The Water Cycle