Water: Facts and figures

Alien Plants are costing the world $1.4 trillion per annum (i.e. 5% of the global GDP)

Regional Water Statistics

General water figures

  • 7 000 lThe water required to refine one barrel of crude oil.
  • 2 900 lThe volume of water required to produce one cotton t-shirt.
  • 25 700 lThe water required to grow a day’s food for a family of four.
  • 100 l The volume of water used by a five-minute shower with a standard shower head.
  • 5 000 l The volume of water required to produce a standard size meal of steak, potatoes and salad with a couple of glasses of wine.
  • 145 l The litres required to produce one serving of a fizzy soft drink.
  • 1 000 t – The estimated tons of water required to produce one ton of grain.
  • 11 00 l The volume of water required to produce one hamburger.

World water figures

  • 10 l – The volume of water the average person in the developing world uses in a day.
  • 300 l – The volume of water the average American consumes in a day.
  • 2 – The number of planets we will require by 2030 to keep up with humanity’s demand for environmental goods and services.
  • 1,4 billion – The estimated number of people who live in river basins where their use of water exceeds minimum recharge levels, leading to the desiccation of rivers and the depletion of groundwater.
  • 5 000 m3 – The volume of water there would be available for each person if all the freshwater on the planet were divided equally among the world population.
  • 60 000 – The estimated number of deaths a year as a result of climate-related natural disasters.
  • 157 – The number of countries that are members of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
  • 19 – The number of megacities with more than ten million inhabitants.
  • 25% – The estimated percentage of people in developing countries who buy their drinking water from private vendors.
  • 9 billion – The estimated number of people in the world by 2050, increasing competition for scarce water resources.
  • 263 – The number of international shared river basins. Over 45% of the land surface of the world is covered by basins that are shared by more than one nation.
  • 13 – The number of river basins worldwide that are shared by between five and eight riparian nations.
  • 1 831 – The number of interactions on transboundary basins (both conflictual and cooperative) over the last 50 years.
  • 10% – The estimated percentage of the world’s irrigated lands that have been damaged by waterlogging and salinisation because of poor drainage and irrigation practices.
  • 70% – The average percentage of industrial waste dumped untreated in developing countries’ water resources every year.
  • 60% – The percentage of the world’s 227 largest rivers that have been severely fragmented by dams, diversions and canals.
  • 12% – The average annual growth of the world’s bottled water industry.
  • 1 billion – The number of people who rely on fish as their main or sole source of protein.
  • 6 – The number of fish species in the world that have become extinct since the 1970s.
  • 15 hours – The average time women in developing countries spend collecting water every week.

African water figures

  • 9% – Africa’s share of global water resources.
  • 4% – The percentage of renewable water resources that Africa uses.
  • 1 200 – Estimated number of dams in Africa. Hundreds more are under construction or being planned.
  • 68 800 km2 – The surface area of Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake and the largest in Africa.
  • 70% – The percentage of Africa’s urban population who stay in slum areas. It is estimated that more than 1,6 billion Africans will be staying in informal urban settlements by 2020.
  • 58% – The percentage of Africa’s population that has access to safe drinking water.
  • 40 000 – The work hours lost every year to the need to fetch drinking water.
  • 20 kg – The average weight of water that women and children carry (mostly on their heads) in Africa and Asia. This is equivalent to the permitted airport luggage.
  • 200 – The estimated number of fish species wiped out in Lake Victoria following the introduction

South African water figures

  • 500 mm – The average annual rainfall of South Africa.
  • 49 billion m3 – South Africa’s average annual mean annual runoff.
  • 21% – The percentage of South Africa that receives less than 200 mm rain a year.
  • 746 m3 – The quantity of water stored per person.
  • 3,69 – The size of the average South African household, down from 4,48 ten years ago.
  • 13% – The contribution of groundwater to bulk water supply in South Africa.
  • 88% – The percentage of households who had access to potable water in 2008.
  • 2% – The percentage of South Africa’s water used by the power generation sector.
  • 19 500 t – The amount of medicinal plant material provided annually by South African wetlands.
  • 50% – The percentage of wetlands lost due to impacts such as agriculture and urban sprawl.
  • 250 – The estimated number of estuaries in South Africa.
  • R100-million – The estimated worth of the existing aquaculture facilities in the country. Most of them are dormant, with some falling into disrepair.

1,3 million ha – The land under irrigation in South Africa.

Municipal water figures

  • 178 million kl – The water consumed every year in Tshwane.
  • 97% – The percentage of residents in Tshwane who have access to tap water within 200 m of their homes.
  • 222 – The number of informal settlements around Cape Town.
  • 11 million – The number of people supplied with tap water from Rand Water.
  • 11 Ml – The size of Rand Water’s largest reservoir, Libanon. The water utility has a total of 47 reservoirs.
  • 98% – The number of people in Johannesburg with a reliable water supply.
  • 3 500 – The number of sewage blockages experienced monthly by Johannesburg Water.
  • 37 – The estimated number of settlements believed to be illegally situated on top of Rand Water’s bulk water pipes.
  • 87 – The number of municipalities that do not have access to in-house engineers.
  • 3,3 – The average number of blockages per kilometer of sewer pipe a year experienced by South African municipalities. This is ten times the international average.
  • 780 Ml – The volume of water Umgeni Water, in KwaZulu-Natal, serves its 400 000 customers daily.
  • 240 – The number of reservoirs under Umgeni Water’s jurisdiction.
  • 3 – The number of river systems of strategic importance to eThekwini Municipality (Durban) that are still in a natural state.

General sanitation figures

  • 10 million – The number of viruses contained in one gram of faeces.

World sanitation figures

  • 40% – The percentage of the world’s population without basic sanitation.
  • 10% – The percentage of the world’s crops being irrigated with sewage effluent, often untreated.

African sanitation figures

  • 90% – The average percentage of global cholera cases stem from Africa every year.

South African sanitation figures

  • 16 000 – The average number of people that die in South Africa every year from diarrheal diseases.
  • 73% – The percentage of households who have access to at least basic sanitation.
  • 51 – The number of schools in South Africa with no sanitation.
  • 986 – The estimated number of sewage treatment plants in South Africa.
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