With a population of 19 million and an area of over 92,000 square miles, Romania is the 13th largest country in Europe. During the 20th century Romania was crippled by two world wars and 40 years of Communist rule which caused extensive poverty throughout the country. It wasn’t until 1989 that a revolution overthrew the dictatorship and a democracy was formed and Romania began to recover.
Despite rapid improvements in human development during the 1990s and 2000s and high economic growth rates the reality for many Romanians, particularly those living in the countryside, is still very harsh. 10% of the country’s population live in absolute poverty and the GDP per capita is only 46% of the EU average.
In general, Romania is not short of water and around 40% of Romania’s energy is generated by hydro electric power plants along the Danube River. However, water access and quality are still major issues. Much of the water is heavily polluted containing high levels of heavy metal, dust, sand and other chemicals. Old piping systems and newer plastic pipes make the issue worse. There aren’t enough sanitation plants to cope with this and only 16.5% of water requiring treatment is properly sanitised. In some villages the pollution is so bad that according to EU legislation the drinking water should not have even been used for bathing. Access to water is also difficult. 66% of Romania’s rural population does not have access to the centralised water supply.
The lack of access to water in rural areas means that farming is inefficient and the pollution contributes towards Romania having the 3rd highest infant mortality rate in Europe.