Rio water pollution reflects global crisis

5184Photograph: Mario Tama for Getty Images

The heavily contaminated waters of Rio don’t only put at risk the health of Olympians (see this Report), they adversely affect the millions of people facing this faecal nightmare day in and day out.

Despite Brazil being an upper-middle income country, nearly 2% of Brazilians, or 3.5 million people, have no access to clean water, and 17%, or 35 million people, live without good sanitation. As Vidal mentions, in Rio alone, 30% of the population is not connected to a formal sewerage system. It is a travesty that anyone should have to live like this, be they a child in a favela, or a world-class athlete.

Sadly, Brazil is not alone in facing a water and sanitation crisis. On a wider scale, one in three people globally live without decent toilets, and one in 10 without clean water. These Games have put the spotlight on one of the most urgent yet beatable crises of our time. It’s time for world leaders to address the UN global goals for sustainable development agreed by these leaders last year. The challenge now is to put those promises into action, ensuring that everyone, everywhere has clean water and sanitation by 2030.
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