Rural water is that water which serves the needs of rural populations, whether groundwater, surface water or rain water.
Considerable investments have been made in rural water supplies. For example, between 1978 and 2003 the World Bank alone lent approximately US$ 1.5 billion to the sector. Springs have been protected; wells have been dug or drilled, and fitted with handpumps; piped water schemes have been constructed. However, the sobering fact is that progress is still much too slow, and rural water supply coverage significantly lags behind that of urban water supply:
- Eight out of ten people without access to an improved water supply live in a rural area. This corresponds to 780 million rural dwellers, compared to 136 million urban dwellers
- In sub-Saharan Africa, the disparity is even greater with 272 million rural dwellers lacking access to safe water, compared to 54 million in urban areas (Figure 2).
- In Africa, the number of rural dwellers without access to safe water supplies went up from 243 million in 1990 to 272 million in 2006. (RWSN Executive Steering Committee 2010)
RWSN Executive Steering Committee. 2010. “The Myths of Rural Water Supply Sector: RWSN Perspective No 4.” In .