Clean Water Crisis
785 million peoplelack basic access to clean and safe drinking water.
"Every 2 minutes a child under 5 dies from a preventable waterborne illness."
-World Health Organization
Having access to clean water might be a foreign concept here in America, but it’s an every day reality in many countries. The top 10 countries, according to Lifewater International, with little access to clean water are:
- Papua New Guinea
- The Republic of Chad
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- United Republic of Tanzania
Many schools in developing countries do not have access to clean water for their students and staff.
Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
Less time collecting water means more time in class. Clean water and proper toilets at school means teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month.
Access to clean water restores health for families and reduces the amount of time that children, who often help with chores at home, spend walking and waiting to collect water each day. Clean water gives kids a chance to attend school and build a better future.(Charity Water)
Key facts (World Health Organization)
- In 2017, 71% of the global population (5.3 billion people) used a safely managed drinking-water service – that is, one located on premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.
- 90% of the global population (6.8 billion people) used at least a basic service. A basic service is an improved drinking-water source within a round trip of 30 minutes to collect water.
- 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.
- Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
- Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year.
- By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
- In least developed countries, 22% of health care facilities have no water service, 21% no sanitation service, and 22% no waste management service.
The facts may seem overwhelming, but you can help solve this crisis!
Water and health…
Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks. This is particularly the case in health care facilities where both patients and staff are placed at additional risk of infection and disease when water, sanitation, and hygiene services are lacking. Globally, 15% of patients develop an infection during a hospital stay, with the proportion much greater in low-income countries.
Inadequate management of urban, industrial, and agricultural wastewater means the drinking-water of hundreds of millions of people is dangerously contaminated or chemically polluted.
Some 829,000 people are estimated to die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene. Yet diarrhea is largely preventable, and the deaths of 297 000 children aged under 5 years could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed. Where water is not readily available, people may decide hand washing is not a priority, thereby adding to the likelihood of diarrhea and other diseases.
Diarrhea is the most widely known disease linked to contaminated food and water but there are other hazards. In 2017, over 220 million people required preventative treatment for schistosomiasis – an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms contracted through exposure to infested water.
In many parts of the world, insects that live or breed in water carry and transmit diseases such as dengue fever. Some of these insects, known as vectors, breed in clean, rather than dirty water, and household drinking water containers can serve as breeding grounds. The simple intervention of covering water storage containers can reduce vector breeding and may also reduce fecal contamination of water at the household level.
Economic and social effectsWhen water comes from improved and more accessible sources, people spend less time and effort physically collecting it, meaning they can be productive in other ways. This can also result in greater personal safety by reducing the need to make long or risky journeys to collect water. Better water sources also mean less expenditure on health, as people are less likely to fall ill and incur medical costs, and are better able to remain economically productive. With children particularly at risk from water-related diseases, access to improved sources of water can result in better health, and therefore better school attendance, with positive longer-term consequences for their lives.
ChallengesClimate change, increasing water scarcity, population growth, demographic changes and urbanization already pose challenges for water supply systems. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Re-use of wastewater, to recover water, nutrients, or energy, is becoming an important strategy. Increasingly countries are using wastewater for irrigation – in developing countries this represents 7% of irrigated land. While this practice if done inappropriately poses health risks, safe management of wastewater can yield multiple benefits, including increased food production. Options for water sources used for drinking water and irrigation will continue to evolve, with an increasing reliance on groundwater and alternative sources, including wastewater. Climate change will lead to greater fluctuations in harvested rainwater. Management of all water resources will need to be improved to ensure provision and quality. (World Health Organization)
Wells of Joy School, Uganda
There are solutions…
We have been working for years on this very issue. We’ve been partnering with a school in Uganda to bring clean water to the entire campus. In the world’s 4th most deprived nation of clean water, our desire is for every student and staff member to have access to water 365 days a year. This will help the physical health of the school along with providing basic needs for the function of a school campus. Students can focus on their schooling and social life, not sickness.
We began years ago by digging wells and have progressed to water cisterns for the campus. This is a long term solution, unlike wells that become contaminated over time.