Friday marks the 20th anniversary of World Water Day but it is hardly a cause for celebration as millions of people still face a daily struggle to find safe, clean water.

The United Nations estimates that 783 million people do not have access to clean water while 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

world water day

Taking water for granted is not something millions of people can do

As the world's population increases - figures suggest there will be 2-3bn more people over the next 40 years - resources are expected to be come further stretched, including water, particularly as agriculture continues to intensify.

The UN says that water for irrigation and food production "constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources" and as economic growth and individual wealth combine to shift diets from mainly starch-based foods to meat and dairy which require more water, the impact on water resources will continue to be felt.

Writing for the The Huffington Post on World Water Day, Jane Labous from Plan International tells of her experiences in Senegal where not only was hot water a luxury but where any water was gratefully received as shortages could last for days.

"Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation," Labous writes. "That's almost 2,000 children a day. While I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling deprived if I go without a shower for a morning, thousands of people consider themselves lucky if they source some water to wash with from a dirty pond."

World Water Day is a time to reflect on how we can all make best use of this vital natural resource.

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  • An Indian girl drinks water from a roadside tap at a slum area, on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian ragpicker boy drinks water from a tap at an automobile yard on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • Indian man bathes under a leaking water supply pipeline on World Water Day on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Friday, March 22, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe f

    Indian man bathes under a leaking water supply pipeline on World Water Day on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Friday, March 22, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • Indians collect drinking water from leaking water pipes on the eve of World Water Day on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • An Indian boy drinks water from a roadside tap on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian woman fills drinking water from leaking water pipes, on the eve of World Water Day on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • Indian women wash themselves at a public tap, on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian woman fills drinking water from leaking water pipes, on the eve of World Water Day on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, March 20, 2013, a girl transfers water to containers after fetching it from a lake in Dala Township, 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Yangon, Myanmar. World Water Day is celebrated March 22 every year by the United Nations to raise awareness on water issues and improve the sustainable management of water resources. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

  • An Indian girl reacts to camera as she returns after collecting water at a slum area on the eve of World Water Day in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • An Indian woman bathes at a public tap on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian farmer carries water to irrigate cucumber plants on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian boy searches for coins in a polluted stream along the Brahmaputra River on the eve of World Water Day in Gauhati, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

  • Indian women collect water at a slum area on the eve of World Water Day in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • An Indian man drinks water from a roadside tap on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • People return after collecting water at a slum area on the eve of World Water Day in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • An Indian farmer fetches water from a pond to irrigate his cucumber plants on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian woman fills drinking water from a public tap, on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • A young Indian boy bathes under a public tap at a slum area, on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Miguel Flores (L) plays on the shores of

    Miguel Flores (L) plays on the shores of the ILopango Lake in the town of Dolores Apulo, 15 km south of San Salvador, during the World Water Day. The polluted ILopango lake is the main water source of the capital. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Residents fetch water in small bottles a

    Residents fetch water in small bottles and jerrycans on March 22, 2012 in the Mathare slum, Nairobi ,where a water shortage continues to bite on World Water Day. A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution. Slum dwellers in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe hold a meeting in Nairobi, organised by Amnesty International, to draw attention to their plight as African ministers hold talks on housing problems. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A water-vendor collects water in jerryca

    A water-vendor collects water in jerrycans to sell on March 22, 2012 in the Mathare slum, Nairobi ,where a water shortage continues to bite on World Water Day. A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution. Slum dwellers in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe hold a meeting in Nairobi, organised by Amnesty International, to draw attention to their plight as African ministers hold talks on housing problems. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A water-vendor collects water in jerryca

    A water-vendor collects water in jerrycans to sell on March 22, 2012 in the Mathare slum, Nairobi ,where a water shortage continues to bite on World Water Day. A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution. Slum dwellers in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe hold a meeting in Nairobi, organised by Amnesty International, to draw attention to their plight as African ministers hold talks on housing problems. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A water-vendor collects water in jerryca

    A water-vendor collects water in jerrycans to sell on March 22, 2012 in the Mathare slum, Nairobi ,where a water shortage continues to bite on World Water Day. A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution. Slum dwellers in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe hold a meeting in Nairobi, organised by Amnesty International, to draw attention to their plight as African ministers hold talks on housing problems. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A water-vendor collects water in jerryca

    A water-vendor collects water in jerrycans to sell on March 22, 2012 in the Mathare slum, Nairobi ,where a water shortage continues to bite on World Water Day. A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution. Slum dwellers in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe hold a meeting in Nairobi, organised by Amnesty International, to draw attention to their plight as African ministers hold talks on housing problems. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian women fill containers with drinki

    Indian women fill containers with drinking water from a government water supply tanker at their residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2012, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. India as a whole suffers from poor water management, with the country's most famous river, the holy Ganges, found to have 16 times the acceptable amount of coliform organisms for swimming at one point. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian women fill containers with potabl

    Indian women fill containers with potable water from a government water supply tanker at their residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2011, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A youth fills containers with potable wa

    A youth fills containers with potable water from a government water supply tanker at a residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2011, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Pakistani child drinks water from a ha

    A Pakistani child drinks water from a hand-pump in an impoverished neighbourhood of Karachi on March 22, 2011, on World Water Day. According to UNICEF as many as 60 million people may not have access to safe drinking water, while more than 100,000 child deaths may be attributed to drinking unsafe water each year in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO/RIZWAN TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian workers loads stock at the Aava N

    Indian workers loads stock at the Aava Natural Mineral Water plant in Ahmedabad on March 20, 2012 ahead of World Water Day, which falls on March 22. Aava Natural Mineral Water plant near Ahmedabad is one of the largest manufacturers of natural mineral Water in India, producing more than 1,50,000 bottles a day. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY (Photo credit should read SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Pakistani child sells beverages on a b

    A Pakistani child sells beverages on a beach in Karachi on March 21, 2012 on the eve of the UN World Water Day. More than 2.5 billion people are in need of decent sanitation and nearly one in 10 has yet to gain access to 'improved' drinking water, as defined under the UN's 2015 development goals. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Pakistani child sells beverages on a b

    A Pakistani child sells beverages on a beach in Karachi on March 21, 2012 on the eve of the UN World Water Day. More than 2.5 billion people are in need of decent sanitation and nearly one in 10 has yet to gain access to 'improved' drinking water, as defined under the UN's 2015 development goals. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian women fill containers with drinki

    Indian women fill containers with drinking water from a government water supply tanker at their residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2012, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. India as a whole suffers from poor water management, with the country's most famous river, the holy Ganges, found to have 16 times the acceptable amount of coliform organisms for swimming at one point. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian women fill containers with drinki

    Indian women fill containers with drinking water from a community tap in their residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2012, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. India as a whole suffers from poor water management, with the country's most famous river, the holy Ganges, found to have 16 times the acceptable amount of coliform organisms for swimming at one point. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Indian woman arranges plastic contain

    An Indian woman arranges plastic containers filled with drinking water from a community tap in a residential colony in Hyderabad on March 22, 2012, on World Water Day. World Water Day calls for international attention on the impact of rapid urban growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. India as a whole suffers from poor water management, with the country's most famous river, the holy Ganges, found to have 16 times the acceptable amount of coliform organisms for swimming at one point. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People sing to the water during World Wa

    People sing to the water during World Water Day in Bogota, on March 22, 2012. Hundreds of people gathered in different parks and wetlands of Colombia to celebrate World Water Day with songs and prayers, in an initiative aimed at raising awareness about the importance of water resources. AFP PHOTO/Eitan ABRAMOVICH (Photo credit should read EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People clean the shores of the ILopango

    People clean the shores of the ILopango Lake in the town of Joya Grande, 25 Km south of San Salvador during the World Water Day. The polluted ILopango lake is the main water source of the capital. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A woman fishes in the ILopango Lake in t

    A woman fishes in the ILopango Lake in the town of Joya Grande, 25 Km south of San Salvador during the World Water Day. The polluted ILopango lake is the main water source of the capital. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jorge Guillen collects water from the IL

    Jorge Guillen collects water from the ILopango Lake in the town of Dolores Apulo, 15 km south of San Salvador, during the World Water Day. The polluted ILopango lake is the main water source of the capital. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A diver helps clean the shores of the IL

    A diver helps clean the shores of the ILopango Lake in the town of Joya Grande, 25 Km south of San Salvador during the World Water Day. The polluted ILopango lake is the main water source of the capital. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Pakistani children stand in front of a b

    Pakistani children stand in front of a beverage stand on a beach in Karachi on March 21, 2012 on the eve of the UN World Water Day. More than 2.5 billion people are in need of decent sanitation and nearly one in 10 has yet to gain access to 'improved' drinking water, as defined under the UN's 2015 development goals. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indians living in a shanty near a railway track fill water from a public tap in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. There is no direct supply of potable water at homes in most of the poor neighborhoods in the country and people have to depend on regulated supplies of water from public taps erected on roadsides, with a single tap catering to hundreds of households. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

  • Indians living in a shanty near a railway track fill water from a public tap in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. There is no direct supply of potable water at homes in most of the poor neighborhoods in the country, forcing people to depend on regulated supplies of water from public taps erected on roadsides, with a single tap catering to hundreds of households. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

  • In this Wednesday, March 13, 2013 photo, Indian villagers walk to fetch drinking water at Kasu village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. A lack of availability of drinking water in several villages compels village women to walk long distances to fetch water. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Indians living in a shanty near a railway track fill water from a public tap in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. There is no direct supply of potable water at homes in most of the poor neighborhoods in the country, forcing people to depend on regulated supplies of water from public taps erected on roadsides, with a single tap catering to hundreds of households. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

  • A young Mishing tribal woman walks after collecting drinking water from a dried bed of the river Brahmaputra in Jajimukh in north eastern Assam state, India, Monday, March 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)