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Desalination - great idea, shame about the costs

By Fiona Harvey   September 2003

One sixth of the world’s population lacks access to clean water. About 40 per cent suffer from water shortages. This seems absurd on a planet whose surface is 70 per cent water. We even have the desalination technology to turn seawater into fresh, clean drinking water. Why, then, is it confined to a few rich nations?

The simple answer is cost. Desalination requires the building of expensive treatment plants, which are beyond the means of the countries that most need the technology: Africa, central and south America, India, China and large stretches of the middle east.

Desalinated water costs about…

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