Telegraph only three orders of magnitude out

Two million people worldwide lack clean drinking water, UN warns

That’s a hell of a success since yesterday

More than two billion people around the world still lack access to safe water,

Ah, no, it’s just the Telegraph journos being only three orders of magnitude out. Arts graduates and numbers eh?

Josh Wilson, data journalist


18 thoughts on “Telegraph only three orders of magnitude out”

  1. Depends on your definition of “safe” Mr Womby.

    Two billion people live in places I would not drink the local water supply. In fact, rather more do.

    By my definition of safe, barely a billion people have truly safe water.

  2. Who to disbelieve more, journalists or the UN. Its a real conundrum.
    I can’t conceive of a more perfect example of ‘six of one, half dozen of the other’.

  3. In the spirit of accurate journalism, fnord, shouldn’t that be six thousand of one & half a dozen of the other?

  4. @fnord

    If I were to provide you with bottles of tap water taken from those countries of the world that have taps, and well water where they’re down to wells, and stream water where they don’t even have wells, and asked you which ones you felt safe drinking, then what do you reckon would be the total population of those areas of the world you’d turn me down on? I think the total mounts up pretty fast – eg due to geology, tens of millions of Bangladeshis get arsenic in their water. There’s plenty of countries with insufficient water purification plants or where people draw from sources which haven’t been purified – even sources into which untreated effluent flows. This is one of those times it’s worth thanking our lucky stars to be westerners.

  5. This are still alive, aren’t they?

    ‘More than two billion people around the world still lack access to safe water, but less than 15 per cent of countries have the resources to provide much-needed infrastructure, according to the United Nations.’

    Therefore, the UN needs to be able to tax, and their pending colonialism is justified. Colonialists like the UN don’t actually bring water to the people; they remove the people to the slums of the cities.

    Std Lefty practice. They couldn’t care less about ‘clean drinking water.’ They use your caring as a foil against you.

  6. Some years ago a mate was telling me about being down in Tanzania, on a civil engineering project for the government. Local villagers were walking a considerable distance to the river for water. Same river villagers upstream were shitting in. So, out of the goodness of their hearts they used their kit to drill them a pumped well. But this is Africa. When they went back down for the next stage of the project, no pump. Flogged it? It was stolen? And no villagers. Buggered off? Died due to drinking contaminated river water having lost their immunity? It’s Africa. Solving one part of a problem in Africa’s not going to solve Africa’s problems. Or African’s, to be more precise

  7. There’s also water you don’t want to drink because it’s too pure. Madeira’s like that: if you’re only there for a week stick to bottled water.

    After that start mixing local/bottled until finally your system has adjusted enough to cope with the local water. Or so we have been told.

    Anyhow, it’s a trivial inconvenience in a wonderful place.

  8. 2.1 billion people survive drinking dodgy water.
    It would be interesting to compare rates of allergies with people who live very disinfected lives. Do you have figures, BiG?

  9. Womby,

    2 million definitely too low. While I won’t drink tap water at my wife’s family home in the Philippines they will, but, there’s clearly more than 2m in the Philippines living in shitty shanty towns who won’t have taps at home or access to anything clean.

    But what do they even mean by ‘access’? Here in China, in one of the country’s wealthiest cities we don’t drink tap water. It’s not full of bacteria but I wouldn’t trust it not to be contaminated with nasty metals that would leave us retarded after 20 years. But we can easily buy those big bottles of clean water and put them in a dispenser. That’s access.

    I guess it’s another case where they choose their number without defining exactly what they mean.

  10. @DJ

    How do you know the big bottles are actually clean and uncontaminated either? Genuinely interested. Must be plenty of Del Boy types willing to hose tap water into bottles with knock-off labels.

  11. Similar to BiS’ Africa story, there’s a bloke I’ve worked with AB bit, used to be in the army. Went on a charity mission to drill a well in an African village, where the locals women were walking 4hr round trip for drinking water.
    Mission successful. Fresh well supplied drinking water.
    Heard a bit later the well wasn’t working. Went back, and it was full of rubbish. So they cleaned it out and told them that it wasn’t a rubbish dump.
    Heard it was jammed again. Found out it was the local men purposefully dumping rubbish in it so their wives had to walk 4 hrs for water. This gave them time for having their bit on the side as well.

    Cos obviously getting your end away with your mistress is more important than, y’know, not dying from drinking the water…

  12. It’s an issue in parts of British Columbia, but when you live somewhere that’s only accessible by boat (or plane for part of the year) then you aren’t going to have the infrastructure for the western standards for clean water that I presume the UN are applying. Some of the remote communities have been using grants for climate stuff to put in geothermal which is an interesting change.

  13. osh Wilson appears to have dyscalculia – not ideal for a Data Journalist

    @Chester Draws


    Of the top of my head by my definition of safe: British Isles, most EU, USA, Aus & NZ maybe Japan


    +1 on Madeira (not sure if all or only Funchal)

    A good indicator is what shops sell: 5 Litre bottles of water in Funchal for tourists esp time-share & self-catering

  14. MBE,

    You don’t to be sure. I’ve seen videos of people doing just that. Buy from someone you trust, make sure they’re properly sealed. Buy the decent brands…

    I’ve considered getting it tested before to be sure.

  15. @DJ

    Thanks. Presumably hasn’t reached the stage people send their personal shopper to HK to buy the genuine stuff yet…

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