Water management in Armenia

With 25.7 percent of the population living below the poverty line, the people of Armenia consider water a luxury. Armenians face daily water shortages and unclean water supply in their homes. Despite this, several groups are working together to improve water management in Armenia. Maintaining a stable supply of water is an important step in lowering poverty and improving the lives of citizens.

3 Efforts to Improve Water Management in Armenia

  1. Relief to Yerevan: The World Bank sponsored a $50 million project to make water more accessible to Armenians living in the capital city, Yerevan. Before the intervention, families would have access to water in their homes for approximately six hours per day, and the water was usually unclean. Now, 332,000 families in the capital have access to water for 21 hours per day, and thanks to nine new chlorination stations, the water is cleaner and safer. The World Bank also recognized the need to monitor the water supply to prevent waste, so they introduced a software program that oversees the entire network of pipes and water mains. The program makes it possible to pinpoint areas within the network that need renovation or attention to maintain a stable supply of water. This program could help thousands of Armenians if it were implemented in other cities, but so far, it has brought a sense of security and relief to Yerevan.
  2. Wastewater Treatment Methods: Before 2010, the wastewater treatment system allowed unsanitary water to contaminate agricultural lands, causing a jeopardized food supply and an increased risk of disease. In the village of Parakar, Global Water Partnership’s Armenia branch stepped in to reform the wastewater treatment methods. They chose a cost-effective technology that treats domestic wastewater so that it can be later used for irrigation purposes and vice versa. This allows water to be recycled and reused, promoting a message of sustainability. The treatment program also focused on public awareness of the new treatment technology, involving the community in the process which facilitated the plan’s success.
  3. Water Within Reach: Armenians used to have to travel very far to get potable water. Some families were forced to drive over an hour to get to the public tap, spending a large portion of their income on the expenses associated with this travel. The Asian Development Bank launched a project that aimed to reduce the cost of obtaining water by making it clean and available within people’s own homes, benefitting more than 600,000 people across the country. Having access to water in the home for at least 17 hours per day now costs $12 per month – significantly less than what it previously cost to make the drive to the public tap. This initiative marginally contributes to the decrease in poverty among Armenian families, and it improves the quality of their lives significantly.

The World Bank, the Global Water Partnership and the Asian Development Bank have changed lives because of their work to improve water management in Armenia. This is a small but mighty step towards decreasing poverty in Armenia.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

Vitens Evides International
Currently, over 660 million individuals around the world do not have access to clean, potable water. However, the Utretch, Netherlands-based organization Vitens Evides International (VEI) aims to change this. VEI partners with local companies to deliver clean water to individuals in transitioning and developing countries. Their work has already reached the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, as they have entered into productive partnerships with companies in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique, among others.

Notable Partnerships

Upon entering into a WOP (water-operator partnership) both the local company and VEI get to work implementing technologies and strategies to help improve water quality and accessibility. One of VEI’s most successful partnerships came in 2008, when they partnered with local company SAWACO in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. VEI was able to successfully fix the issue of water system leakage in the city and improve clean water distribution. They were also able to train individuals in the community on how to maintain a functional, efficient water purification and distribution system, ensuring that the work done by this particular WOP had long-lasting impact.

Another notable partnership came in 2015 when VEI worked with FIPAG, a local water supply company in the city of Maputo, Mozambique. Their combined efforts to install new drinking water distribution centers and improve household connections to these centers has helped bring clean, potable water to many people residing in Maputo.

The Statistics

VEI’s yearly statistics are impressive. In 2018, they worked on over 40 projects in 20 different countries and helped over 300,000 individuals gain access to clean water. The number of individuals that have gained access to clean water as a result of VEI’s work has grown in 3 consecutive years; as such, VEI is aiming to help another 350,000 individuals gain access to clean water by 2020. The company has a strong vision and driven leadership at the helm. Given all of this, it seems VEI is set up for future success.

Sustainable Development Goals

VEI’s work helps to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal #6, which is to ensure all individuals have access to clean water and sanitation. Accomplishing such a goal will help achieve a number of other Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as well; having access to clean water helps to alleviate poverty and promote educational opportunities (SDG’s #1 and #4) as individuals will be able to spend more time working or obtaining an education and less time looking for water. In addition, individuals with access to clean water will be far healthier, which will contribute towards the achievement of SDG #3.

Future Impact

As mentioned above, VEI is looking to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people across the developing world. They have recently secured partnerships with companies such as STUCO (Aruba) and WEB (Bonaire), as well as DWASA (Bangladesh). Each of these partnerships promises to contribute to the end goal of providing clean, potable water to everyone around the globe. Such a future may now be closer than ever.

Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Health Problems from Polluted Water

Water—our lives depend on it, but for many people around the world, this essential, life-giving liquid brings disease and even death. Today nearly one billion people have limited access to safe, clean water because of pollutants from inadequate sewage systems, industrial dumping, agricultural run-off and irresponsible manufacturing practices. The result? More people die every year from water contamination than war and other forms of violence combined. Each year, around 840,000 people die of health problems from water pollution.

3 Health Problems from Water Pollution

1. Diarrhea: The most common health problem from water pollution, diarrhea causes loose, watery stools, abdominal pain, dehydration and even death. Diarrhea is commonly caused by drinking, cooking or cleaning with water contaminated by feces. In India, a country where roughly half the population practice open defecation, diarrhea is the third leading cause of death in children under the age of five. In 2015, diarrhea killed an estimated 321 children every day in India. However, India is making efforts to prevent and treat diarrhea. In 2014, the country approved the Integrated Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (IAPPD), with one of its main focuses being to provide safe drinking water and improved sanitation to Indian households. Since its adoption of IAPPD, India has improved treatment cover to those with diarrhea, launched immunization campaigns to treat diarrheal disease, and as of 2018 constructed household toilets in 52.16 percent of the IAPPD’s targeted 12 million rural Indian households. Because of these efforts, deaths of children below-four children in India have decreased by 52 percent over the last several years.

2. Cholera: Contracted by consuming contaminated water or food, cholera’s main symptoms are severe diarrhea and vomiting which leads to dehydration. There are an estimated 3-5 million cholera cases every year and the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 54 percent of all cases are from developing countries in Africa whose inhabitants lack access to safe water, basic hygiene and sanitation facilities.  The Lake Chad Basin, which includes Nigeria, Niger, Mali, and Cameroon, reported that in 2018 there were eight times as many cholera cases compared to the previous four years in that region, with more than 23,000 people affected and over 388 deaths. In response to the increased cholera outbreaks in Africa, GAVI the Vaccine Alliance, along with WHO and the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), launched a massive vaccination drive throughout five African regions to help treat and extinguish further epidemics. Between 1997 and 2012 only 1.5 million doses of cholera vaccines were administered worldwide, but thanks to the vaccine drive, in just the first four months of 2018, 15 million cholera vaccines were approved for administration. The vaccine drive is part of a global initiative to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent by the year 2030.  Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI the Vaccine Alliance, shares that despite the vaccine drive’s importance in addressing the outbreaks, improved water and sanitation is “the only long-term, sustainable solution to cholera outbreaks.”

3. Dysentery: Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestines. Its symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and even excreting large portions of the intestinal membrane. Like many other health problems from water pollution, dysentery is spread through fecal-polluted water, and mainly impacts impoverished communities who rely on makeshift sewage systems and contaminated water sources for sanitation and drinking. Dysentery can be a major concern in refugee camps where insufficient and overwhelmed sanitation facilities and open-air sewage dumping become a breeding ground for water pollution diseases like dysentery, as the recent Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh revealed. Dr. Samir Howlader, National Program Officer for Migration Health at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that when the Rohingya refugees—over a million people have fled their homeland of Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh—first arrived in the Bangladesh camp of Cox’s Bazaar in 2017 there were “effectively no facilities” for the new arrivals and dysentery was a common concern. In 2019 however, the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, made it possible for the largest-ever refugee camp sewage treatment plant to be constructed in Cox’s Bazaar. The now-operating plant treats the human waste of 150,000 people every day, protecting the refugee community from the previous dangers of sewage-contaminated water. Medical clinics set up in the camp by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have also helped treat and eliminate dysentery from the community. Since 2017, over one million refugees have received consultations at IOM clinics, and Rick Brennan, director of emergency operations for WHO states that there has not been any significant increase in disease thanks to these diligent efforts.

Though health problems from water pollution claim too many lives each year, great progress is being made towards a solution. The UN reported that over the last two decades, 2.6 billion people gained access to an improved drinking water source.  Now more than ever there is hope as the global community and developing nations work together to address water pollution problems and create a world where everyone has access to safe, clean water.

– Sarah Music
Photo: Flickr