Solutions to Clean Water
Access to clean water is a fundamental human right, yet millions of people in developing countries still lack safe and reliable water sources. The scarcity of clean water poses serious health risks, perpetuates poverty and hinders socio-economic development. The following is an exploration of innovative technologies and approaches that are revolutionizing solutions for clean water access in resource-limited settings, offering hope for a sustainable future.

Challenges of Clean Water Access in Developing Countries

In many developing regions, limited infrastructure for water supply and sanitation leads to inadequate access to clean water and increased waterborne diseases. Unsafe water sources often become contaminated with pollutants, pathogens and dangerous chemicals, posing severe health risks to communities relying on them for drinking and daily needs. Additionally, the impact of climate change exacerbates water scarcity in certain regions, making it crucial to find adaptive and resilient solutions for clean water access.

Moreover, resource-limited settings often face financial barriers to implementing and maintaining clean water solutions, hindering progress in improving water access. Further to this, the high costs associated with traditional water treatment plants and distribution systems may not be feasible for communities with limited funds and resources.

Innovative Solutions for Clean Water Access

  1. Solar-Powered Water Purification: Innovative solar-powered water purification systems use sunlight to disinfect water, eliminating harmful pathogens and contaminants. These systems are sustainable, cost-effective and suitable for off-grid communities, providing access to safe drinking water in areas with limited infrastructure.
  2. Water ATMs: Water ATMs are automated water dispensing machines that provide safe and affordable water to communities. Users can access clean water by paying with prepaid cards or mobile payments, ensuring a steady and reliable supply without the need for extensive infrastructure.
  3. Fog Harvesting: Fog harvesting technology collects water droplets from fog and condenses them into clean drinking water. This solution is particularly beneficial in arid regions where traditional water sources are scarce, offering a unique and eco-friendly approach to water access.
  4. Bio-Sand Filters: Bio-sand filters are simple, low-cost devices that remove impurities from water. They are easy to maintain and have proven effective in reducing waterborne diseases, making them suitable for resource-limited settings.
  5. Mobile Water Treatment Units: Mobile water treatment units equipped with advanced filtration and purification systems can be deployed to disaster-stricken and remote areas, providing immediate access to clean water during emergencies and natural disasters.
  6. Rainwater Harvesting: Rainwater harvesting systems collect and store rainwater for domestic use. This eco-friendly approach is especially valuable in regions with regular rainfall but limited access to clean water sources, providing a sustainable water supply.
  7. Water Quality Monitoring Apps: Mobile apps that enable communities to monitor water quality in real-time empower them to identify potential contamination and take proactive measures to ensure safe water access. These apps bridge the gap in water testing capabilities in remote areas.


Access to clean water is vital for economic development and poverty alleviation. Therefore, it is important that we understand the importance of finding solutions for clean water to address these critical needs.

The challenges of providing clean water in developing countries demand innovative and sustainable solutions. Solar-powered purification, water ATMs, fog harvesting and other emerging technologies could go a long way to ensure clean water access for all.

Embracing these innovative approaches alongside community engagement and international cooperation has the potential to give developing nations a brighter future. One in which clean water is readily available to every person, regardless of their socio-economic status.

– Mihir Naik
Photo: Flickr

UNICEF's Make a Splash
Since 2018, UNICEF’s Make a Splash! campaign has sought to expand access to clean water for those who need it most. The partnership with LIXIL has managed to improve sanitation conditions for 5.6 million people in 2022 alone. Here is some information about this campaign and how it is changing the lives of countless people in developing countries.

What is the Make a Splash! Campaign? 

UNICEF’s partnership with LIXIL, a Tokyo-based organization of companies manufacturing plumbing equipment, has proved wildly successful since its initial launch in 2018. The campaign aims to increase the accessibility of clean water in six countries: India, Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. 

The Make a Splash! campaign pursues a number of different avenues to accomplish its goals, including the endorsement of government policies expanding access to clean water, the installation of plumbing fixtures and sanitation training. The partnership is designed to take definitive action toward the World Health Organization’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in access to sanitation services. 

By the Numbers 

In 2022, Make a Splash! provided nearly 3 million people with access to sanitation services and 2.7 million with access to hand-washing facilities. Much of this was accomplished through the installation of SATO equipment, a subsidiary of LIXIL focused on manufacturing accessible hygiene products

Additionally, the program trained more than 300,000 stakeholders on safe and effective sanitation practices. Make a Splash! also improved a number of information systems relating to sanitation and endorsed government policies increasing sanitation access, and strengthening hygiene infrastructure in the long run. 

Long-Term Impacts

The program emphasizes innovation in sanitation technologies, with the goal of increasing sustainability in the hygiene industry. The partnership with LIXIL sets a standard of accessibility and affordability of sanitation products and services, making a large impact not only on the quality of life in these areas but also on the sanitation industry itself. LIXIL has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the campaign, helping to support these endeavors and provide clean and sanitary facilities in some of the world’s poorest countries. 

Why it Matters

UNICEF’s Make a Splash! partnership was founded in order to push the world closer to achieving SDGs for the year 2030. These dramatic efforts are intended to accelerate global attempts to reach these targets in the area of sanitation. The campaign sets an example for companies in the hygiene industry to help push these efforts further toward SDG targets, which are in desperate need of increased attention. 

SDG Targets 6.1 and 6.2 focus on expanding and improving sanitation services around the world. Access to hygienic facilities significantly increases the quality of life in affected areas, including reduced spread of disease, decreased severity of malnutrition and improvements in safety, particularly for young girls. 

The impact of these services is so notable that the World Health Organization (WHO) states that for each dollar invested in increased access to sanitation, $5.50 is returned in productivity, decreased health costs and increased lifespan. 


The results of UNICEF’s Make a Splash! campaign has changed the lives of millions in the world’s poorest regions. Through its partnership with LIXIL, UNICEF has managed to make sustainable improvements in sanitation access and infrastructure for those who need it most. 

– Mary Burke
Photo: Flickr

Stanford's New PowderWith more than 2 billion people lacking access to safe drinking water, the challenge of water scarcity looms large. According to UNICEF, nearly half of the global population could face water scarcity by 2025. To address this impending crisis, researchers at Stanford University are pioneering a novel approach: a powder that swiftly purifies contaminated water. Unlike conventional methods, this innovative solution utilizes sunlight to eliminate bacteria within a minute. The introduction of innovative solutions like Stanford’s powder presents a pathway toward achieving widespread and enduring access to clean drinking water.

The Study

On May 18, 2023, Stanford University published results from their study about a powder that disinfects contaminated drinking water. The technology is unique because it reacts with the sun’s UV rays and “high-energy visible light.” It then creates chemicals that attack bacteria’s cell membranes to kill them. Scientists found that the powder is so effective it can disinfect drinking water in just 60 seconds.

Stanford’s new powder is made from metallic “nano-sized flakes of copper, iron oxide, aluminum oxide and molybdenum sulfide” that are cost-effective and readily available. The product is sustainable because the metals are easy to make and reuse. A magnet collects the metallic “nanoflakes” from clean water, then places them in new contaminated water. The water is safe to drink immediately after decontamination due to the chemical byproducts breaking down into water and oxygen. In the study, one dose of recycled powder disinfected 30 water samples. Since water treatments are scarce, reusing the product allows people to have longer access to clean water.

This is great progress because current treatments add chemicals that leave behind toxic byproducts and utilize ultraviolet light, which requires electricity. And these constraints make it difficult to implement water treatments on a large scale. 

Water Scarcity

In areas where water is scarce, there are few opportunities to find a source of safe drinking water. Consuming contaminated water exposes people to preventable diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid and cholera. Diarrhea causes an estimated 446,000 deaths per year among children younger than 5 years old, or 9% of all deaths for children in that age range. Adequate access to clean water allows for better hygiene and sanitation practices.

The scientists used E. coli in their study, which is a widespread contaminant that causes fecal-oral diseases. With 1.7 billion children younger than 5 years old suffering from diarrhea, this technology could provide relief from preventable waterborne illnesses. 

Looking Toward the Future

Stanford University’s groundbreaking powder has the potential to revolutionize clean drinking water access for the approximately 2 billion individuals worldwide who lack it. Furthermore, the wide distribution of this powder could enable those already using water treatments to embrace improved hygiene and sanitation practices. Notably, gaining access to a consistent and safe water source significantly enhances individuals’ health and overall quality of life.

Tong Wu, the co-lead author of the project, expressed, “We believe that our novel technology will facilitate revolutionary changes in water disinfection and inspire more innovations.” This recyclable and nontoxic powder represents a pioneering development. The powder’s scalability and distribution potential render it a viable and practical solution for individuals facing restricted access to safe water sources.

– Diana Grant
Photo: Flickr

Water in Rural AfricaIn the continent of Africa, around 418 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 779 million people live without basic sanitation. Narrowing in on sub-Saharan Africa, lack of clean water access occurs due to inadequate infrastructural investments, relentless droughts, a growing population and poor sanitation, which results in the contamination of water supplies. This leads to further problems such as the transmission of diseases including diarrhea, cholera, dysentery and typhoid, placing pressure on health care facilities. Water insecurity can also reduce life chances, especially for girls, as many have to walk long distances in search of water instead of attending school. This increases gender inequality and exacerbates the cycle of poverty. SafeWaterAfrica is an EU-funded project, first introduced in 2016, that aims to provide access to clean water in rural areas of Africa.

The SafeWaterAfrica Project

The SafeWaterAfrica initiative, coordinated by Fraunhofer IST, focuses on targeting water security sustainably and cost-effectively using a combination of pre-existing and new technology. It has developed an innovative water treatment system that will provide easier and safe access to water by efficiently removing harmful pathogens and pollutants. This will also create opportunities for jobs within communities as locals can operate the system, utilizing it as a source of reliable income.

There are two demonstrator plants already working in the water-stressed regions of Mozambique and South Africa, each successfully providing “100mof WHO-quality water per day” from river water. South Africa’s unit is near Johannesburg and has been in operation since September 2018. In Mozambique, the unit is in Ressano Garcia and first started providing safe water in April 2019. Due to the environmental and economic benefits of the project, it received the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label award from the Solar Impulse Foundation.

How It Works

Initially, the water undergoes pre-treatment where a salt coagulant converts pollutants into a precipitate which column filtration easily removes. The water is then disinfected and purified using “carbon-based electrochemical oxidation” where the water flows through electrochemical cells with diamond-coated electrodes. Next, two electrodes apply a low voltage current, producing ozone which works to decompose harmful microbes and pollutants, thereby making the water safe to drink. The plants are self-sufficient, sustainable and relatively low-cost because sunlight powers the systems through solar cells and batteries which also protect the environment.

Looking Forward

SafeWaterAfrica has provided accessible sources of safe water, enabling people to spend less time collecting water and increasing school attendance. This initiative has been of particular benefit to girls, as it enables them to pursue greater opportunities for future employment and escape poverty. The flexibility of the technology makes it easy to install in remote and rural areas across sub-Saharan Africa, allowing it to reach those most in need of a safe water supply.

Improved sources of water also lead to less expenditure on health, as people are less likely to become ill due to diseases resulting from that contaminated water. According to the WHO, globally, “more than 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries” and around “2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.” In light of these facts, projects such as SafeWaterAfrica play a vital role in encouraging development, improving health and livelihood and maximizing future opportunities through the provision of safe water.

– Isla Wright
Photo: Flickr

UN 2023 Water ConferenceFrom March 22-24, 2023, the first U.N. conference on water in the last 46 years took place in New York. With a doubling of the global population since the last conference in 1977, the need for access to clean water has skyrocketed, making this event all the more crucial.

Ensuring access to water and sanitation is one of the 17 interlinked sustainable development goals (SDG) to transform our world, set in 2015 by the United Nations as a call for action by all countries to end poverty.

However, despite the importance of water, the U.N.’s data on SDG 6 shows a bleak reality. According to the data released prior to the water conference, if current trends persist, by 2030, 1.6 billion people will still lack access to safely managed drinking water, 2.8 billion will not have access to safely managed sanitation facilities and 1.9 billion will be deprived of basic hand hygiene facilities.

Water is not only essential to health but also to food security and ecosystems, so it is closely connected to poverty reduction. It is essential to all industries and needs to be valued and treated as the vital resource it is. The United Nations Conference on Water is just the beginning of a global effort to ensure access to clean water for all.

U.N. 2023 Water Conference Takeaways

Five key themes were addressed during the conference: water for health, water for sustainable development, water for climate, resilience and environment, water for cooperation and Water Action Decade. Here are some of the most important takeaways:

  1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, emphasized the urgent need to modernize infrastructure and explore new public-private partnerships to manage the water crisis of the 21st century. He called for greater private sector investment in water and sanitation: regulating private sector participation would mean benefitting from data, management techniques and other resources previously unavailable. This was an idea echoed throughout the conference by most delegates.
  2. Water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a salient issue in promoting gender equality. In many countries, girls and women handle the oftentimes dangerous responsibility of retrieving water for their families, sometimes at the expense of their education. Delegates have agreed to massively invest in water and sanitation systems.
  3. Water is a crucial issue for achieving sustainable development goals, as 90% of natural disasters are water-related, and none of the other goals can be achieved without addressing the water crisis. Guterres also confirmed that water-linked natural catastrophes can be a source of heightened geopolitical and international tension, as they cause forced migrations and displacement of communities. The World Bank’s Groundswell report shows that disasters linked to water could cause up to 216 million people to move within their countries by 2050. Some of these tensions could be mitigated by putting water at the forefront of the political agenda.
  4. Water is rarely contained by borders; however, solutions often are, as they exist in geographies that are very local. Transboundary water cooperation is essential to scale up technological solutions globally, such as updates to wastewater and storm management systems to better handle sudden surges in water levels.
  5. Finally, after a mention by most, if not all, delegates, the conference concluded with the appointment of a U.N. special envoy for water to keep the issue high on the political agenda and raise awareness of SDG 6 and investment opportunities in water.

Importantly, contributing internationally to improve a capacity for water security is not about aid. Rather, it is an investment that is going to pay off for donor countries as well. Clean water supports lives, creates jobs and drives inclusive economic growth, all while ensuring sustainable development. It should be seen as a fundamental platform for economic prosperity and development, rather than an environmental issue.

Overall, the U.N. 2023 Water Conference provided invaluable insight into the most pressing water-related issues facing our planet, such as water sanitation and hygiene, climate resilience and transboundary cooperation. It has also emphasized the need for public-private partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms to support the development of water infrastructure.

To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 by 2030, global leaders need to remain ambitious and continue to work together to ensure that all individuals have access to sustainably managed water and sanitation services. The appointment of a U.N. special envoy for water is a promising step in the right direction to ensure that no one is left behind.

– Hanna Bernard
Photo: Flickr

India's Water Crisis
India’s water crisis is a struggle that millions of people are facing. As summer approaches, bringing heat waves and dry spells with it, the necessity for clean and accessible water is extreme. In May 2022, the city government of New Delhi proposed an action plan to provide sewage connections to more than 25,000 houses in East Delhi. The proposed plan also emphasizes taking steps to clean the Yamuna River, which snakes through India’s north-central region. Delhi’s vision of a clean Yamuna River offers an optimistic gaze into India’s future.

Water Crisis That Millions Feel

India’s water crisis is an ongoing struggle. Underdeveloped infrastructure and an unstable agricultural sector due to land infertility and increasingly severe droughts have brought the crisis on. Groundwater depletion occurs at alarming rates due to over-usage of water, and extreme pollution causes water contamination. A prevalence of arsenic, sulfur and fluoride is in the water people are consuming. In 2017, researchers from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) reported that more than half of India’s population does not have access to potable water. India’s water situation fuels health concerns and hinders agricultural production and employment, trapping an increasing number of people into poverty.

A glance at India’s longest tributary, the Yamuna River, offers a dire look at the nation’s struggle for clean water. The Yamuna flows south through Delhi, where an estimated 80% of the pollution comes from. Beyond the floating piles of trash that collect along the shores, evidence of polluted water comes in the form of froth. Detergents and other chemicals in the untreated water that goes into the river produce these buildups of foam. The pollution entering the river from Delhi flows south into the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, India, putting more people at risk.

Despite the water crisis, Delhi’s population has had immense growth in recent years. Researchers with the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) have estimated that New Delhi, India’s capital, will be the most populous city in the world by 2028. With over 30 million already living in New Delhi, the Indian government recognizes the necessity of providing clean water to its people. An uphaul of India’s water infrastructure could drastically improve these conditions and provide more Indians with this essential human need.

Improving Sewage Connections

Representatives from the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), New Delhi’s official water agency, have offered considerable methods of combatting the excess of unpotable water. In May 2022, officials devised a plan that would provide around 25,000 free sewage connections to households in East Delhi constituencies like Mustafabad and Karawal Nagar, located near the banks of the Yamuna River. This is a beneficial move for DJB during a time when water meter scams have become extremely prevalent in India. Providing additional sewage connections, especially in Delhi’s many low-income colonies, would also diminish the amount of untreated water escaping into the Yamuna.

Free sewage connections are not the only benefit to come from this plan. If implemented, DJB will construct approximately 30 reverse osmosis (RO) plants around Delhi. These manufacturing plants desalinate and purify water by separating and collecting the contaminants within it. DJB officials plan to implement many of the RO plants throughout Delhi’s numerous Jhuggi-Jhopri (JJ) clusters. These clusters illegally house some of the capital city’s most impoverished under mud roofs along the streets and passageways of slum colonies. Each RO plant can serve up to 65,000 liters of clean water daily. Officials have set a goal to place around 1,000 RO plants across Delhi in the future.

The Yamuna River gives a sweeping view of India’s water crisis. It offers unmistakable evidence of chemical contamination with froth buildup and trash. Most importantly, though, is how the Yamuna cries out on behalf of the multitude of people in Delhi who lack the basic amenity of clean water.

India’s Six-Point Plan to Clean the Yamuna

DJB’s actions to improve water quality in New Delhi fall under a six-point action plan devised to clean the Yamuna River by 2025. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the plan in November 2020, referring to the Yamuna as “the lifeline of Delhi.” These are the six points of action:

  • Increase the number of sewage treatment plants and upgrade existing plants to treat 850 million gallons of water per day.
  • In-situ treatment of four major stormwater drains (Ghazipur, Najafgarh, Badshahpur and the supplementary drain).
  • Implement and upgrade common effluent-treatment plants to treat liquid waste and sewage entering the river.
  • Provide community toilets and sewage systems in JJ clusters.
  • Increase household sewage connections.
  • Restore the existing sewer system.

Years of neglect toward the Yamuna River has had damaging effects on Delhi’s people and landscape. Thankfully, the government is making resilient efforts to rehabilitate the Yamuna and quell India’s water crisis.

– Evan Lemole
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Facts about South SudanIn South Sudan, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent despite the country’s abundance of natural resources. Challenges include civil wars and prolonged violence. These challenges contribute to a significant number of people living below the poverty line within the nation. Several facts about South Sudan provide insight into the country’s economic and social landscape.

9  Facts About South Sudan

  1. A 50-Year Conflict. From 1955 through 2005, North and South Sudan faced civil wars and conflict. In January of 2005, the leaders of North and South Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement granted Southerners a revised Interim Constitution and partial autonomy. However, even with a signed peace agreement, social, political and economic conflict continues in South Sudan.
  2. Gaining Independence. In January 2011, 98% of Southerners in Sudan voted to secede from the north. Due to this vote, in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was formed — the world’s youngest country.
  3. High Poverty Rate. South Sudan has a population of about 12 million people. The overwhelming majority of the population, about 80%, resides in rural areas. According to the World Bank’s latest estimates, about 82% of South Sudanese people endure poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day.
  4.  An Abundance of Natural Resources. Although South Sudan falls high on the poverty scale, the country has many natural resources. The Nile River, petroleum, marble/dolomite, aluminum, iron ore and gold stand as the nation’s major natural resources. Of these resources, oil fuels the country’s economy, with outside investors dominating the sector. The issue is that about 85% of the population works in non-wage pastoral jobs and does not benefit from the abundance of natural resources.
  5. Water and Sanitation are Limited. In 2019, just half of the South Sudanese population had access to safe drinking water. Also, just 10% of people had “access to basic sanitation.” On a positive note, due to the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), almost a million more South Sudanese people received “access to improved drinking water” between 2008 and 2019.
  6. Inadequate Health Care. Less than 50% of the South Sudanese population has access to health services. The government allocates only 2.6% of its budget to health care. For this reason, many citizens rely on non-governental organizations (NGOs) for their health care needs. Doctors Without Borders is a movement dedicated to providing medical aid globally. In 2019, Doctors Without Borders had 19 project sites across South Sudan. The organization’s medical assistance is vast and ranges from tackling malaria to vaccinating children and treating gunshot wounds.
  7. Food Insecurity is High. More than 60% of the population is currently enduring food insecurity. The International Relief Committee (IRC) believes that famine will increase even more in 2021. This stems from the cumulative effects of “conflict, an economic crisis, recurrent flooding and COVID-19” as well as displacement. The IRC is advocating for an infusion of support to stave off famine in South Sudan. Action Against Hunger is an NGO currently aiding South Sudan in hunger relief. As the world’s hunger specialist, its goal is to create new, better ways to deal with hunger. In 2020, it helped 558,079 people in South Sudan. Of this number, the organization’s health and nutrition programs helped more than 300,000 people. Further, 103,004 people received help through “food security and livelihood programs.”
  8. Life Expectancy is Increasing. South Sudanese life expectancy stood at 57.6 years of age in 2018. For males, the life expectancy was 56.1 years old. For the female counterpart, the life expectancy was higher at 59.1 years old. This is a steady increase over the years — 20 years ago, in 1998, the life expectancy at birth stood at 48.3 years old.
  9. Access to Education. More than 70% of South Sudanese children are not attending school. Some of these children live in pastoral settings and need to follow the herds so they cannot attend school. Girls are the largest group of students out of school.  This is due to poverty, cultural and religious beliefs and child marriage.

Looking Ahead

These facts about South Sudan may seem discouraging, but there are NGOs working on solutions. World Concern is a faith-based organization that works in South Sudan and 11 other countries. The organization provides assistance in the areas of water access, health, child protection, education, food security and nutrition, disaster and crisis response as well as economic resilience. World Concern supports countries village by village and operates in eight villages in South Sudan.

Hope is on the horizon for the people of South Sudan as organizations like World Concern, the IRC, Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger step up to help. Coupled with the country’s abundance of natural resources, these efforts ensure South Sudanese people are able to rise out of poverty.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr

Latin American Water ScarcityIn Latin America, the health and well-being of rural communities are threatened by water scarcity and poor sanitation. In recent decades, the number of people facing water scarcity has declined. Unfortunately, with 36 million people currently lacking access to clean water in Latin America, water scarcity is an issue that is just too prevalent. EOS International aims to address Latin American water scarcity by providing simple and affordable solutions to increase access to clean water.

Causes of Latin American Water Scarcity

While many factors contribute to the water crisis, the outsized role of climate change cannot be ignored. Recent increases in extreme weather events including flooding, hurricanes and droughts threaten the water supply of many Latin American countries. For example, in Peru, flooding left water treatment plants full of rocks and debris, clogging the water supply. Consequently, authorities made the decision to restrict water usage in the Peruvian cities of Lima and Arequipa.

On the other end of the spectrum, drought threatens Bolivia’s water supply, which is significantly rainfall-reliant. Extreme weather conditions, however, are not the only factors threatening clean water access for Latin Americans. Misguided governmental decision-making exacerbates the problem. Most consequentially, increases in deforestation, mining and the creation of mega dams have exacerbated the occurrence of extreme weather patterns. In turn, these developments often harm the water supply in many Latin American countries. Of particular concern in Peru, international mining companies polluted waterways and “hijacked” the water supply, harming the livelihoods of farmers in the region.

In other countries, the biggest threat to the water supply is agribusinesses with undue control over water allocation. This synergy of extreme weather conditions, extractive industries, agribusinesses and governmental inaction still threatens rural families in Latin America who lack access to clean water.

Health and Water Scarcity

Water scarcity poses a direct danger to human health. The most harrowing outcome is waterborne illnesses, primarily diarrheal diseases, which are too often fatal. Waterborne illness is responsible for one in nine child deaths around the world. The pollution in the water itself is an environmental hazard. The Pan American Health Organization estimates that in children younger than 5 in the Americas, close to 100,000 die from such pollution annually.

Water Scarcity Hinders Poverty Reduction

Not only does water scarcity threaten the health of rural communities in Latin America but it is also a major obstacle to poverty prevention. Without clean water, it is nearly impossible to stay healthy enough to manage a job, go to school, construct a home or undertake other essential endeavors necessary to pull oneself out of poverty.

When women have to travel long distances to collect water, they waste hours of time and energy that can otherwise go toward more productive endeavors such as education and paid employment. Areas lacking clean water are also more vulnerable to food insecurity as it is more difficult to grow sufficient crops to feed the populous. Food security, education and employment are all key to poverty reduction, however, a lack of access to water presents a barrier to these outcomes.

Efforts to Alleviate Water Scarcity

Organizational efforts play a role in driving the decrease in overall water scarcity. EOS International is one such organization. EOS stands for “Emerging Opportunities for Sustainability.” The organization’s work aims to empower rural families in Central America by facilitating access to clean drinking water through technological advances and education.

As part of this goal, EOS volunteers help rural communities to safeguard clean water. The volunteers regularly test water quality and then treat unsafe and contaminated water, usually with chlorine tablets. The volunteers then monitor the water system over time, providing chlorine tablets to communities when required. Not only does EOS provide base-level support but it also manufactures and installs simple technologies that provide long-term support for the water supply. Since its establishment in 2008, EOS has installed more than 2,000 simple, affordable and “locally serviceable technologies” in Central America.

The organization also supports economic growth and income generation in communities. EOS International has “provided clean water services including training, education and support for 1,169 communities,” positively impacting more than 500,000 people. Furthermore, the organization’s “50 chlorine distribution centers have created income-generating opportunities for local entrepreneurs.”

Looking to the Future

EOS International has made a measurable impact on the health of rural Latin Americans. The organization has installed technologies that provided lasting clean water access to more than half a million people in Honduras and Nicaragua alone.

EOS International’s successes in combating Latin American water scarcity are not possible without the support of donors and volunteers. The implementation of technologies is done in large part by people willing to give their time to support rural families. Nonprofits make a measurable impact in the lives of countless families facing water insecurity. However, their work is not possible without generous contributions of time and monetary support. EOS International’s efforts are an example of the vital work being done by nonprofits to combat global poverty.

– Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in SomaliaSomalia is facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has affected millions. Over 70% of the country’s population is currently living in poverty, with more than 4.8 million people suffering from food insecurity. Political instability, armed conflict and extreme weather coupled with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has caused the country’s GDP to decrease by 1.5%. Extreme weather caused over $3 billion worth of damage to Somalia in 2018 which was more than 50% of the country’s GDP. The current state of Somalia has only deteriorated with the need for humanitarian support increasing. Food insecurity, malnutrition and access to clean water in Somalia are major issues requiring continued humanitarian attention.

Access to Clean Water in Somalia

The United Nations has reported that over 2 billion people globally lack access to clean water. UNICEF reports that only 52% of the population of Somalia has access to a water source. With such a low percentage of the Somali people having readily accessible clean water, preventable diseases become a greater threat. Access to clean water in Somalia means improving sanitation, hygiene and decreasing susceptibility to diseases like cholera, diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Save the Children has reported that droughts have left 70% of Somali families lacking access to clean water. The survey gathered responses from over 630 families in 18 provinces of Somalia. Droughts have led to crop failures resulting in more people struggling with food insecurity. Without access to clean water, women and children face an increased risk of health-related issues, like preventable diseases and childbirth complications.

Providing Clean Water in Somalia

Mercy-USA for Aid and Development is a nonprofit organization from Michigan that has been working in Somalia since 1997. The United States-based nonprofit has projects spanning several countries including Syria, Kenya and Yemen. The programs in Somalia are developing self-reliance skills through education, skill training and food and water assistance. In order to combat the crisis of accessibility to clean water in Somalia, Mercy-USA is building wells for the Somali people. The organization has built over 700 wells, which have provided clean water to over 750,000 people. The organization can build a new well for $3,500 which can provide water to an entire community.

CARE International is a non-governmental organization based in Switzerland that has been providing humanitarian aid to Somalia since 1981. The organization has been helping mitigate the damage that extreme weather like floods and droughts have had on Somali agriculture. CARE’s programs in Somalia have helped over 250,000 people through improvements to clean water accessibility, sanitation and hygiene. The organization works with local authorities and international organizations to treat preventable diseases like acute watery diarrhea. CARE International has provided over 10,000 people access to clean water. The organization’s ongoing projects include efforts to improve agriculture, sanitation and develop local businesses.

Looking Forward

With extreme weather displacing communities and damaging agriculture, more people are finding themselves without access to clean water in Somalia. The Somali government is working to expand assistance and opportunities to those suffering from the effects of poverty with the support of humanitarian organizations like Mercy-USA and CARE International. The poverty rate is expected to remain at 71% as the Coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates food insecurity and displacement. Continued humanitarian support is necessary to improve the situation of the Somali people and ensure everyone has access to clean water in Somalia.

– Gerardo Valladares

NanoseenIn Sopot, Poland, co-founders Bartosz Kruzska and Mikolaj Granuszewski are leading innovations that could change access to clean, drinkable water forever. Startup firm, Nanoseen, is developing the NanoseenX, a water filter made of recycled metal wafers that can desalinate water. The startup, which was ranked as one of the top “15 Chemical Engineering Startups Positioned to Make it Big in 2021” by the Welp Magazine, aims to revolutionize the use and development of nanotechnology to build the most modern products. “Nanoseen is a team of nanotechnology engineers and scientists who prove remarkable properties of NanoseenX nanomaterials as a core component of the company’s products that will help solve many problems related to climate change such as water shortage and plastic pollution,” Kruszka told THEfirstNEWS. The company plans to begin mass production of its water desalination devices in 2021, making it one of the most highly anticipated startups of the upcoming year.

NanoseenX Water Filter

The filter can desalinate both brackish and seawater, giving it the potential to become essential to both disaster relief and combating global poverty. Worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source and one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, making clean water one of the chief obstacles of under-developed nations. Countries like Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania and Somalia struggle with clean water but border the oceans so they can benefit greatly from the filter. The provision of clean water will not only improve sanitation but consequently improve health and infant survival rates, which is fundamental to fighting poverty. The product could also aid natural relief teams in tropical countries that are prone to hurricanes and typhoons. For example, crises like the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which cut off access to clean water in Puerto Rico for months, can be resolved. Removing clean water as a pressing concern will also give destitute communities a better opportunity to develop and escape poverty.

Other Innovative Initiatives by Nanoseen

In addition to the water filter, Kruzska elaborates that Nanoseen is tackling research on a method of damaging micro and nano-plastics in water, with the use of NanopowderX. Such development could help clear pollution in oceans, which contain 25-50 trillion macro and microplastics. Being able to filter such microplastics from the water will be the most effective way to curb this new atmospheric pollutant. The team is also pioneering unique paints that will remove pollutants from the air to fight atmospheric pollution, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects impoverished people.

Innovatively Addressing Global Issues

Nanoseen’s ingenious filter is paradigmatic of innovations in STEM creating solutions to global poverty. The startup also offers other eco-friendly and problem-solving materials. The startup’s website offers viewers more in-depth descriptions and applications of its products and states its goals of creating innovative nanomaterials to build modern products that solve the main problems of today’s world.

– Christine Chang
Photo: Flickr