22/03/2013 07:05 GMT | Updated 22/03/2013 07:31 GMT

World Water Day Marked By 783m People Still Without Access To Clean Water (PHOTOS)

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.

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.