In Mali, people are getting a measure of protection from death and disability with every bucket of water they draw from a village well, thanks to the world's first project to add iodine to water.

The World Bank says similarly simple projects to fight deficiencies of Vitamin A, iodine and iron could save more than 1 billion people from disease and death for a mere $1 a year per victim."There's some magic here: No other technology offers as large an opportunity to improve lives, at such low cost and in such short time," said World Bank nutritionist Alan Berg.

In a report Friday, the bank presented what it called the world's first comprehensive look at the social and economic consequences of these micronutrient deficiencies.

The bank found:

- Vitamin A deficiency has blinded more than 13 million people, and six of every 10 preschool children with the deficiency die.

- About 1 billion people lack adequate iodine. The deficiency kills five to 10 babies out of every 1,000 pregnancies and leaves untold numbers retarded, deaf or mute.

- About 1 billion people suffer anemia.

Micronutrient deficiencies aren't a major problem in most of the developed world. Americans, for instance, eat iodized salt, the easiest way to fight iodine deficiency. The bank is lending China $27 million next year for its first salt iodization.

But many developing countries don't have a centralized salt works, so the bank funded the project in the West African nation of Mali to find an alternative.

In specially rigged wells, every bucket of water washes over an iodine pack, which cost 10 cents a person. The bank says last year, iodine deficiency among 500,000 people dropped from 94 percent to 40 percent, and 120 neonatal deaths and 1,000 cases of cretinism - severe retardation and physical handicaps - were prevented.

Despite that success, Friday's report highlights the failure of global programs to fight malnutrition.