ENVIRONMENT

African governments urged to spend more on water safety

  • In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, children take water from a well at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

    In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, children take water from a well at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

    In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, children take water from a well at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

    In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, children take water from a well at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The World Water Council says 32 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe drinking water.

In a statement Wednesday marking World Water Day, the advocacy group urged governments "to contribute a relevant part of their budget to projects that make safe water available to all on the planet."

The statement said Africa and Asia are the continents most affected by scarcity of safe water, with Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea and Angola reporting that clean water is available to less than 50 percent of their populations.

The water problem is particularly serious in sub-Saharan Africa, where some of the world's poorest live and water-borne diseases like cholera are common.