Clean Water in Palestine
Palestine is a sovereign state in the Middle East that contains both the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It is undergoing conflict with Israel, with Israel in control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Today, many Palestinians live with limited access to clean water, which disturbs their ability to live peacefully. Here are 10 facts about access to clean water in Palestine.

10 Facts About Access to Clean Water in Palestine

  1. Limited Clean Water Access: In the Gaza Strip, only one in 10 people have direct access to clean and safe water and 97% of freshwater from Gaza’s only aquifer is unfit for human consumption. Overpopulation, over-pumping and the seeping of seawater into freshwater have significantly reduced the amount of clean water available in Palestine.
  2. Clean Water is Expensive: Due to the severe shortage of clean in Palestine, private vendors charge high prices for their water. Freshwater costs 30 shekels ($7) per cubic meter. As of 2017, 95% of Gaza’s population depends on these private vendors for desalinated and clean water.
  3. Violence Damages Water Networks: In 2014, the Gaza War caused $30 million worth of damage to water storage tanks and pumping and piping systems. Tensions with Israel have exacerbated this problem, as Israel maintains a blockade around the Gaza Strip, which prevents Palestinians in Gaza from seeking clean water sources outside of the Gaza’s contaminated aquifer.
  4. There is a Sanitation Crisis: After the Gaza Power Plant ran out of fuel and shut down, energy shortages adversely affected more than 450 water and wastewater facilities. As a result, 108,000 m3 (about 43 standard Olympic pools) worth of sewage flows every day into the Mediterranean Sea. About 70% of Gaza beaches have experienced contamination; in the winter, sewage floods the streets. UNICEF is tackling this by supporting WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) services that improve access to clean water for 40,000 people. Other services and interventions UNICEF supports include rehabilitation of infrastructure, repairs of public sanitation facilities and maintenance works and rehabilitation of water wells and stormwater pumping stations.
  5. Risk of Disease is High: With access to clean water deteriorating, Palestinians cannot shower and wash their food and hands frequently, which intensifies the risk of disease. In 2017, diarrhea in children as young as 3-years-old doubled in 3 months, from nearly 1,483 cases in March to 3,713 in June. UNICEF has been combating this since January and February 2020 by supporting the monthly distribution of sodium hypochlorite to public water facilities in Gaza. This helps avert waterborne disease outbreaks as well as improve access to safe and clean water in Palestine.
  6. Poverty Hinders the Ability to Pay: Between 80% and 85% of people in Gaza live in abject poverty and cannot afford to pay their water bills. The 11-year blockade has worsened unemployment in Gaza, which is at 60% for young adults. Meanwhile, the municipality cannot afford to fuel water pumps. Jamal Al-Khudari, a Palestinian legislator, said in February 2020 that long-distance or remote employment opportunities might help unemployed Palestinians, though the best way to reduce unemployment is to end the Israeli siege.
  7. Water Usage Per Day is Meager: Palestinians in the West Bank only use about 72 liters of water per day. In contrast, the average American uses about 302-378 liters of water per day, and the average water usage per person in the U.K. in 2018 was 149 liters.
  8. Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable: The United Nations reported that Gaza may become uninhabitable by 2020, with the principal reason being the water crisis. The damage to the Gaza aquifer may become irreparable by that time. UNICEF planned to prevent this by funding the Gaza Strip’s largest desalination plant in 2017, which projections determine will produce 20,000 cubic meters of desalinated water in 2020. This will serve about 275,000 people in Rafah and Khan Younis with 90 liters of water per capita per day. UNICEF also funded the largest solar field in Gaza, which will help power the seawater desalination plant and allow more citizens to obtain safe and clean drinking water in Palestine.
  9. Other Organizations Working to Help Palestine: The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine collaborates with many organizations around the world to raise awareness about the water crisis in Palestine. One such organization is House of Water and Environment, a Palestinian nonprofit NGO that works with Newcastle University to conduct water and environmental research and development projects that improve water supply as well as sanitation services in Palestine. HWE also develops simulation models to solve regional and national water and environmental problems.
  10. Another NGO is Working to Provide Clean Water to Schools: The Middle East Children’s Alliance started The Maia Project to provide clean water to children in Gaza by installing and maintaining water purification and desalination units to children in Gaza schools and community kindergartens. MECA has constructed 42 water purification units, with 10 more currently being constructed. Each unit provides clean water for more than 2,000 students and staff. MECA plans to continue The Maia Project until it has installed units in all 221 U.N. schools in Gaza refugee camps as well as in hundreds of kindergarten and preschools in Gaza. The Maia Project accepts donations for maintenance, cleaning and purchases of water purification units and drinking fountains on its website. As of June 2020, it raised about $78,000 of its $80,000 goal.

One can infer from these facts that the Palestinian water crisis is severe. Organizations such as UNICEF, MECA and HWE are working to provide greater desalination processes and improve water and sanitation infrastructure in Palestine. Even an ordinary citizen can help by donating money to a project such as The Maia Project to help Palestinians obtain access to clean and safe drinking water.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Flickr

Forbes ranked Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, the 20th dirtiest city as it lacks proper water management, which leads to famine and disease. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mauritania. 
Mauritania is the geographic and cultural bridge between North African Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islamic nation has a population of around 4 million people. Located in northwest Africa, the coastal country includes 90% desert land. Mauritania is infamous for being the last country to abolish slavery — in 1981 — and slaves still make up 4% to 10% of the population. Meanwhile, Forbes ranked Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, the 20th dirtiest city as it lacks proper water management, which leads to famine and disease. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mauritania. 

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mauritania

  1. According to WHO, the lack of water sanitation causes nearly 90% of the 2,150 deaths from diarrheal diseases in Mauritania each year. Stagnant water breeds malaria mosquitos, parasites and other contaminants. With over 16.6% of the population below the extreme poverty line, many Mauritanians cannot afford to acquire clean water or proper healthcare.
  2. According to the Africa Development Bank Group, 68% of Mauritanians have access to potable water. In 2008, only 49% of the population had access to potable water. In isolated desert villages, citizens must trek miles to reach the closest water source. Meanwhile, in the capital city of Nouakchott, people in poverty often purchase water from vendors who hauled the barrels from a water supply several kilometers away.
  3. WaterAid determined that in 2017, 1,048,500 Mauritanian children under the age of 17 lacked a proper household toilet. Because people cannot afford toilets and lack access to running water, Mauritanians rely on latrines. In 2010, the government of Mauritania halted funding towards latrines, further stalling progress toward sanitation. However, UNICEF’s Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) initiative has improved 67% of latrines since 2009.
  4. As of June 12th, 2020, Mauritania logged 1,439 cases of the novel COVID-19. Although many facilities lack proper sanitation to handle the virus, the Mauritanian government enforced curfews, travel bans and shop closures. In hopes of preventing potential economic damage, the government also distributed food and exempted 174,707 households from paying electricity bills. Organizations like WHO and UNICEF responded to the situation by treating coronavirus patients and implementing sanitation facilities to contain the virus.
  5. In 2018, the Chinese company CTE subsidized $40.3 million toward a rainwater collection system for a new sanitary sewerage network in Nouakchott. Prior to the project, Nouakchott’s sewerage network served only 5% of the city’s households. Building better sewerage networks will allow Mauritania to bring running water to rural areas. Since the country is below sea level, sewerage networks can also help limit floods and stagnant water.
  6. The African Development Bank funded the National Integrated Rural Water Sector Project (PNISER) to install drinking water supply networks and solar pumping stations in rural Mauritania. The Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation is implementing the new networks in rural communities that lack water systems. Around 400,000 square meters of irrigated land will receive water availability, generating additional income for women and youth.
  7. World Vision initiated the WASH Mauritania program in 2016. It has provided three local villages with access to water, hygiene and sanitation resources. With funding from the U.S. and Germany, World Vision Mauritania “[rehabilitated] boreholes, water towers, water retention points, fountains and water network extension.” In the village of Maghtaa Sfeira, WASH benefited over 900 people and sponsored more than 200 children. As a result of this program, many women and children no longer have to seek unsanitary water holes or trek miles for water supplies.
  8. According to WaterAid, 60% of Mauritania’s schools lacked sanitation in 2016. When schools offer sanitation, not only can children practice good hygiene, but their school attendance increases.
  9. Because Mauritania is vulnerable to desertification, WHO partnered with the Mauritanian government in 2013 to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and villages have proper water, sanitation and hygiene. WHO provided water basins, installed toilets and insured higher quality of food for schools. In addition, WHO equipped the country with six biomedical waste incinerators to dispose of hazardous substances. In one instance, transforming a Land Rover into a mobile water laboratory has enabled WHO to monitor the water quality of different villages.
  10. In 2020, the World Bank secured funding for the Water and Sanitation Sectoral project and the Mauritania Health System Support project. The Water and Sanitation Sectoral Project received an International Development Association (IDA) grant of $44 million to improve latrines, add hand-washing facilities and rehabilitate water systems. In the Hodh el Chargui region in eastern Mauritania, an additional $23 million IDA grant will increase the quality of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition services. Together, these projects will benefit more than 473,000 people.

Improving sanitation in Mauritania can potentially have wide-reaching benefits — from raising incomes and boosting the national economy, to improving education and lowering mortality rates. It is imperative that the government and other organizations focus on providing sanitation resources to the people of Mauritania.

– Zoe Chao
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in SlovakiaThe country of Slovakia is located in central Europe and borders The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Austria. Slovakia has a deep-rooted history in Europe. Slovakia was originally a part of Czechia and had the name of Czechoslovakia. While allying with Nazi Germany, the Slovakian government became independent. After the war, however, Czechia and Slovakia became one country once again until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In 1993, the two countries peacefully agreed to separate and become two independent countries.

The current population of Slovakia is 5.4 million and 80.7% is Slovik. Slovakia does not have a high percentage of migrants, with only 0.2 migrants per 1,000 persons. Also, less than one-eighth of the population lives in poverty. Although poverty is not as severe in Slovakia as in other countries, poverty affects certain demographics more heavily. Here are four facts about poverty in Slovakia.

4 Facts About Poverty in Slovakia

  1. The Poverty Rate: In 2016, 3.30% of people in the Slovak Republic were living on less than $5.50 a day, a decline from their highest poverty rate in 2004, when 5.30% of people lived on less than $5.50 a day. The rate fluctuates between a 0.1% and 0.8% increase or decrease each year.
  2. Minorities: The majority of the Slovak ethnic group residing in Slovakia experience the luxuries of living in the country. These luxuries include access to clean water, comfortable living conditions, access to health care and sanitized environments. Although many Slovaks have these luxuries, minority groups such as the Romani people experience higher poverty rates on average. Poverty in Slovakia directly affects the Romani people, the third-largest minority group. The majority of these communities do not have access to running water, electricity or a proper system for waste disposal. The children within this group are more likely to drop out of secondary school, experience trafficking (prostitution or forced labor) and not receive necessary health care.
  3. Access to Clean Water: As of 2017, 99.79% of people have access to clean water. Compared to the rest of the world, Slovakia ranks 17th for clean water access. The fewest amount of people had access to clean water in the year 2000, with 7.82% of the population not having access to clean water. The rate continues to steadily rise every year.
  4. Housing: Habitat for Humanity partnered with the Environmental Training Project and started a program to build housing for poor communities in 2004. So far, this project has served more than 1,000 families in Eastern Slovakia. To begin construction, the program assisted families in taking out microloans and it provided construction training to families to develop skills. In addition to construction skills, families learned how to manage their finances and take out microloans in the future.

These four facts about poverty in Slovakia show that it has a low poverty rate in comparison to other countries. Access to clean water and other human necessities are available for some; however, poverty in Slovakia disproportionately affects minority groups. These groups do not have the same access to essential human needs and it affects their everyday lives. There is hope, however, because organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and The Environmental Training Project, are working to provide necessary resources for developing communities.

– Brooke Young
Photo: Flickr

sanitation in belarusBelarus, a post-Soviet state that spent seven decades as a conglomerate of the larger Soviet Union, industrialized early, making much of its industrial base outdated and inefficient today. The country is highly dependent on Russia economically, with many treaties linking the two nations, and much of the sanitation and infrastructure remains unchanged from the early 20th century. This has left much of the country without safe sanitation or modern amenities, reducing the standard of living. Looking back on Belarus’s sanitation history shows high chemical content in their water, poor waste management systems and poor consistency of water flow. However, large scale projects on the horizon are looking to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of Belarus’s sanitation infrastructure.

5 Facts About Sanitation in Belarus

  1. Current status: Though Belarus struggles compared to its Western European neighbors, compared with some of its Eastern counterparts, Belarus scores in the top third of countries in the Human Development Index measure for “quality of standard of living” metrics. Additionally, compared with some of its less developed neighbors eastward, Belarus ranks in the top third in countries for environmental sustainability which also takes into account sanitation in Belarus. The United Nation’s report on water states that 95% of the population has access to a safe potable water source, 86% of the country has safe wastewater treatment and 81% of the country has access to safe sanitation services. While these numbers may appear relatively high, they are critically low when compared to Western European nations. For example, Belarus’s neighbor to the West, Poland, has 100% of its population with access to potable water and 93% of the country that has access to sanitation services.
  2. Clean water access is an ongoing problem: According to a study conducted on drinking water in Belarus, the quality of potable water is among the most pressing ecological problems for Belarus. Multiple outbreaks of diseases can be attributed to poor access to clean water. For example, in 1997, poor drinking water quality caused a small 400-case outbreak of aseptic meningitis. Other disease outbreaks related to poor water quality include viral hepatitis and methemoglobinemia in infants. These factors greatly reduced the quality of life for those in Belarus who could not rely on safe water to drink.
  3. Belarus is a “water-rich” country: Though Belarus’s territory has been known to lack basic sanitation, the country contains many natural, accessible water resources. Belarus has many aquatic ecosystems including rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ponds. The historic difficulty for Belarus has been to transform those clean water sources into potable and usable water for its citizens.
  4. The “Clean Water Program”: Massive efforts are underway to transform the Belorussian country’s critical utility services. With support from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, Belarus is upgrading existing critical infrastructure in order to modernize. In addition to upgrading the old infrastructure, the World Bank hopes its investment will not only provide better services but come at a lower cost. It was planned that, through this program, 324,000 citizens of Belarus would have better quality drinking water and a cleaner environment. Through the modernization of existing systems, the reforms would not only bring cleaner water but give a much-needed upgrade to Belarus’s aging solid waste management services. New landfills and water treatment facilities would usher in a new era of environmental efforts as well as raise the standard of living.
  5. The quality of living has risen: In June of 2020, following the completion of the subsidized “Clean Water Program,” the number of people that benefited from quality access and treatment of water rose from 324,000 in 2019 to a staggering 611,766 people at the time of the project’s completion. Not only did more people benefit from increased water quality and treatment, 47,520 individuals gained access to much-improved sanitation services through 32 newly constructed utility centers and 154 kilometers of piping that was replaced. In addition to the new changes brought on by the massive initiative spearheaded by the World Bank, tangible changes in quality of living were noticed throughout the country. In the city of Berezino residents noticed cleaner air and cleaner water in the Berezina river that intersects the town. This was all due to the replaced water treatment center. Residents from another provincial town called Smolevichi noticed that the discoloration in their water supplies was almost totally gone. These noticeable improvements regarding sanitation in Belarus are vital in raising the standard of living in the country and bringing people out of poverty.

While Belarus is still lagging behind many of its more developed Western neighbors, vast international efforts have recognized the need for Belarus to have access to safe drinking water. Recent efforts to address sanitation in Belarus, as well as other water-related infrastructure, are vital to understanding its development as a sovereign state in the 21st century.

– Zak Schneider
Photo: Pixabay

 

Clean Water Initiative in KenyaKenya, among many other areas, needs clean water. Clean water is not only a necessity for adults in Kenya but especially for children. Children need clean water for sanitation and hygiene. The number one cause of death of children age five or younger is from diseases related to water, hygiene and sanitation issues. Schools in Kenya, all suffer from not having complete access to water, hygiene and sanitation. This causes educational setbacks for children and it stunts their development and potential.

The goal is to achieve complete access to water for everyone in Kenya by 2030. However, there are some issues preventing the completion of this goal. One major barrier is the population growth that is continuing in Kenya. People who drink from contaminated water in Kenya ranks as the third in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa has an estimated 9.4 million people who consume contaminated water sources. Additionally, they are about 5 million people who practice open defecation in Kenya. Also in Kenya, only 14% have access to soap and water in their homes to wash their hands.

The Water Project

The Water Project is a nonprofit organization that is committed to enabling the access of clean water throughout Africa. The organization working to help communities with the clean water initiative in Kenya. According to the Water Project, access to clean water means an improvement in education, health, poverty and hunger.

Hunger can be improved by access to clean water because it is the foundation to have sustainable food sources. A lot of water is required to ensure that food will grow. So, improving water sources can change an entire community and country. At the root of poverty in Africa is water sources. The lack of clean water sources is one of the main causes of poverty. However, this is a problem that can be solved.

The Water Project and Community Engagement

The Water Project has a process that it follows for all its commitments. The organization focuses on community engagement, community education, installing the project, education follows up, monitoring and evaluation. With the help of the community, the organization can decide where it is going to work. Resources, the potential for positive outcomes and demand are a few of the main factors in its decision.

Community education is an opportunity for communities to learn about clean water resources, hygiene and sanitation. In addition, the community learn other key aspects of cooking and preparing meals using clean water sources. At the ending of the process, the organization then follows up with the community to ensure that the education process is going well and also that the project is exceeding expectations.

Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH)

The Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) is a five-year program that is dedicated to the clean water initiative in Kenya. It is working to create clean and sustainable water sources. The USAID program has six key areas of focus. These areas are water access, infrastructure, sanitation and hygiene, finance, sustainability and governance.

UNICEF

UNICEF is also another organization with the determination of providing clean water sources for Kenya. It helps to establish WASH. UNICEF aims to increases access to clean water for the number of households, schools and hospitals between 2018-2022. Additionally, the organization has helped more than 6,700 communities achieve Open Defecation Free status. Almost 550,000 children use WASH hygiene and sanitation facilities. UNICEF installed more than 1,000 facilities in schools throughout Kenya.

Kenya continues to lack the appropriate access to clean water sources for all of its communities. This causes poverty and directly affects the education of young children. These children do not have the appropriate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. As a result, this leads to diseases which are one of the leading causes of death for young children. In addition, it leads to setbacks in their education and potential.

The Water Project has stepped in to help the clean water initiative in Kenya. The organization has set up a process that will lead to the appropriate access to clean water in Kenya’s communities. The Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH), is working to provide more accessible water sources, sustainability and education throughout Kenya. Finally, UNICEF has helped to establish WASH, which has helped people use hygiene and sanitation facilities throughout Kenya.

Jamal Patterson
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Haiti
The state of Haiti is in the western third of the island of Hispaniola. The poorest country in the world’s western hemisphere, nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s residents live below the national poverty line. Despite its status as one of the world’s poorest countries, with a $19.93 billion GDP in 2017 (142nd out of 185 countries), larger conversations about ending global poverty do not often include Haiti. Although people often discuss poverty in Haiti in conjunction with natural disasters, the most recent of which was Hurricane Matthew in 2016, there are larger systemic issues of political instability that influence poverty in the country. Here are 5 facts about poverty in Haiti.

5 Facts About Poverty in Haiti

  1. Wealth Disparity: Haiti has the most unequal distribution of wealth in the Caribbean.  The wealthiest 20 percent of the population holds roughly 64 percent of the state’s total wealth, while the bottom 20 percent of the population holds less than 1 percent.
  2. Unemployment: The World Bank estimates that unemployment in Haiti was at a rate of 13.5 percent as of 2019. However, other reports have identified unemployment in Haiti at a rate of 70 percent. There are also no labor laws protecting workers in Haiti. Additionally, workers of a young age often experience unsanitary conditions, low wages and excessive hours.
  3. Governmental Ineptitude: The Haitian state government lacks the proper systems to adequately serve its people. Haiti has failed in its attempts to implement a true democratic system over the last several years resulting in an overcrowded prison system, domestic child labor and a lack of general rights. Estimates place the number of child laborers in Haiti between 250,000 and 400,000 people.
  4. Lack of Clean Water: Haiti is highly prone to outbreaks of cholera due to its lack of adequate sanitation systems. Only 24 percent of the Haitian population has access to a toilet and less than half have access to clean water.
  5. Educational Opportunity: Over 90 percent of schools in Haiti are private and require tuition for enrollment. There is little to no public education system resulting in a direct correlation between wealth and opportunity for education. The literacy rate in Haiti is between 61–64 percent for males and 57 percent for females.

Haiti’s Success So Far

Ending poverty in Haiti will be immensely difficult. With nearly 6 million people living below the poverty line of $2.41 USD per day and 2.5 million people living below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 USD per day, the epidemic of poverty in Haiti is widespread. However, despite the fact that Haiti ranks 168 out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s Human Development Index, the state is slowly improving.

The 2013 Millennium Development Goals report cited positive upswings for many of Haiti’s largest obstacles in overcoming poverty. From 1993 to 2013, enrollment in primary education jumped from 47 to 88 percent, evening out the contrast between male and female enrollment in schools. Furthermore, the MDG report noted that access to clean drinking water in Haiti has doubled to nearly 65 percent since 1995. Finally, the number of Haitian’s living in extreme poverty has declined from 31 to 24 percent from 2000 to 2012.

NGO and Foreign Aid Efforts

Through external efforts, the war against poverty in Haiti has continued. Over the last decade, the United States donated over $5.1 billion in humanitarian aid, mostly for hurricane relief efforts. In addition, the United States has introduced new seed, fertilizer and irrigation resources to Haitian farmers to increase crop yield and food production. Rounding out the United States major efforts in Haiti is its establishment of new power plants and 14,000 jobs in the apparel industry.

There are also a number of organizations fighting poverty on the ground. The Haiti Foundation Against Poverty runs several schools, medical facilities and shelters for those in poverty. Meanwhile, CARE Haiti focuses on gender rights, equality and opportunity for disenfranchised Haitian women. Rebuild Globally uses the social enterprise model to prioritize job training and fight for a living wage. Additionally, the organization charity: water assists in fundraising money for and donating to organizations on the ground in Haiti that specifically specialize in bringing clean and accessible drinking water to people.

Overall, these five facts about poverty in Haiti highlight the complexity of solving a deeply entrenched issue throughout the world. Additionally, they show that a concentrated and continued effort from multiple angles should allow Haiti to eradicate poverty.

– Max Lang
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Technologies Solving Water Scarcity
More than 1 billion people live in areas with water scarcity or the lack of access to freshwater resources. However, current innovations are tackling water scarcity in creative and environmentally friendly ways. Here are five sustainable technologies solving water scarcity.

5 Sustainable Technologies Solving Water Scarcity

  1. Solar-powered Water Pumps: These pumps use energy from the sun to power electric pumps, which extract water from the ground. The price and technology have evolved in recent years, allowing solar-powered water pumps to be a more affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable solution to water scarcity. Solar panels last approximately 25 years, requiring little maintenance throughout this lifetime. Also, the cost of solar panels that the pumps use has decreased by 80 percent. Solar-powered water pumps are most viable in areas with high solar insolation, particularly, many developing nations in Africa, South America and South Asia. Specifically, solar-powered water pumps have alleviated water scarcity for 40,000 people in Marimanti, Kenya, a country with annual sunshine.
  2. Solar-powered Desalination Units: Desalination technology harnesses energy from the sun and converts seawater into fresh, potable water. A system that Solar Water Solutions, a Finland-based startup, designed produces up to 3,500 liters of water per hour. Additionally, the system does not require batteries or oil-based fuel and it does not impart a large carbon footprint. Additionally, Solar Water Solutions has placed solar-powered desalination units in Kenya and Namibia. The desalination units are providing cheap, clean water to local communities. Additionally, large scale implementation of the technology could help solve water scarcity.
  3. Fog Catchers: Mesh nets trap freshwater from fog and eventually drips into the collection trays. A piping network then carries the water to the village. This system is free, clean and environmentally sustainable. People are using fog catching systems to provide water to communities in Chile, Peru, Ghana, South Africa and more. The largest fog catcher project is on the slopes of Mount Boutmezguida in southern Morocco.  Every day, about 1,000 people use water that fog captured for everything from drinking to agricultural use. 
  4. Portable Filters: In particular, one Swiss company, Vestergaard Frandsen, has developed a portable water filter. Lifestraw is a gravity-powered plastic tube, that people can use as a drinking straw. The filtration system eliminates protozoa, bacteria, chemical compounds and dissolved metals. Each Lifestraw can filter up to 4,000 liters of water — enough potable water to last three years for one person. Additionally, this portable filter eliminates the need for single-use plastics and fuel-combustion for water sanitization. Further, LifeStraw has partnered with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to alleviate the shortage of potable water for more than 64 countries, including Haiti, Rwanda and Kenya. 
  5. Drinkable Books: Each page of the drinkable book is a filter that turns raw sewage into potable water. The drinkable book houses silver and/or copper nanoparticles that kill bacteria when water passes through it. Motivated by a desire to create a water filtration system that uses greener chemistry, researchers designed the tool at Carnegie Mellon University. Field trials have shown that the drinkable book can eliminate 99 percent of bacteria in water. At the 25 contaminated water sources in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Haiti and Bangladesh, these trials have been promising enough that people can distribute the drinkable book commercially. Each book holds enough filtration sheets to filter clean water for four years.

For the millions of people across the globe lacking access to clean water, these are five sustainable technologies solving water scarcity. Technology like these has the potential to make a substantial difference in the world in terms of sustainable solutions for sanitation and access to water.

– Kayleigh Rubin
Photo: Wikimedia

Water Crisis in Libya
The country of Libya has suffered from civil war since the violent removal of its former dictator Muammar Ghadafi. Challenges with the country’s water supply was one of the many humanitarian problems that have arisen due to this conflict. Yet, even in darkness, there remains some light as one can see in the efforts to resolve the water crisis in Libya.

The Libyan Desert

In order to first understand how resolving the water crisis in Libya has taken place, it is important to understand the environmental qualities of Libya itself. The country is a dry and arid place and the presence of freshwater and rainfall is extremely scarce. However, Libya contains many groundwater aquifers, which offer available quantities of water underneath the ground.

The Water Crisis

The Libyan people have been tapping into this water supply to sustain life and plan on continuous aquifer use. Even with this underground supply, there has always been a struggle to ensure the availability of freshwater. This shortage of water does not mean that the aquifers are emptying, but rather that they are becoming contaminated by seawater intrusion. The extraction of freshwater has caused seawater to invade the aquifers. Due to the intrusion of seawater since the 1930s, it is alarming that no one knows exactly how much freshwater remains in the aquifers. Further, records have determined that seawater intrusion has compromised about 60 percent of freshwater wells. The freshwater in these aquifers cannot replenish either, meaning that every drop must count for use.

Another reason for the Libyan freshwater shortage is the expanding agricultural industry. Some crops demand vast amounts of water; typically this extensive use results in water waste throughout agricultural production and processing. In fact, Libya uses about 93 percent of its water for agricultural purposes.

Since Muammar Gaddafi’s ousting, a third strain has impacted water availability as a result of oil conflict. Gunmen forcing water-workers to turn off supplies in Tripoli for two days exacerbated this violence. Additionally, the country’s power grid and water control systems suffered damage due to fighting.

The Impact on Libyan People

These problems have adversely impacted the Libyan people. The country pumps about 6 percent of groundwater for drinking use and domestic wells. Drinkable water is a daily issue for the people of Libya; some local bottled water might even be unsafe. The fact that this small amount of water (6 percent) is not reaching people outlines the dire situation in Libya.

Some Libyans have resorted to looting their fellow countrymen and women in a desperate search for viable drinking water. According to UNICEF, these problems in the Libyan water supply have adversely impacted poor sanitation.

The Attempt Towards Resolution

As bleak as some of these problems appear, there are some attempts to solve the water crisis in Libya. The IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, for example, gives support and training to impoverished nations to better manage water resources. In 2018 IHE Delft reported training programs for Libyan governmental authorities in water management, water resources planning and water desalination. The IHE Delft training should allow Libya to accomplish the maintenance and management of the water supply in Libya effectively.

America has noticed the troubles the Libyan people have faced as well. In 2019, the U.S. government provided $31.3 million in aid to address the humanitarian needs of the country. With this aid, the Libyan people can fix the infrastructure including the damaged power grids and the water control systems.

Resolving the water crisis in Libya has been no easy task. Today, the country still struggles with the water supply. Although, victories due to the help of USAID and IHE Delft have been impactful achievements. These organizations have provided financial aid and programming to the Libyan government which is exactly the type of support necessary to formally resolve the water crisis in Libya.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Drinkable Ocean Water
Experts expect that 50 percent of the world population will live in areas with water shortages by 2025. For cities in South Africa, India and China, this crisis is already becoming a reality. So what solutions are there for the shortage of this valuable resource? Water filtration systems and desalination are a few, although many water treatment solutions have not been environmentally friendly and desalination has proven to be costly. However, a lot has changed in water treatment over the years. Here are a few improvements and advancements that could prove promising for the future of potable water, including drinkable ocean water.

Water Softeners and Filtration Systems

Water softeners and filtration systems have gained a negative reputation due to the salt they use and the wastewater they produce that ends up in aquatic environments. However, advancements in these areas have led to softeners that use salt more efficiently and newer equipment reducing water usage and conserving that precious resource. New technology has decreased the usage of both water and salt by 50 percent.

Manufacturers have established ways to achieve high efficiencies by focusing on providing products that are better-performing and able to dictate the amount of water they use during maintenance functions, as well as making larger filtration cartridges that extend the replacement cycle times. Manufacturers have even designed new technology to monitor water usage in the home and adjust to match the household’s habits.

A top priority of the water treatment industry is to develop ways to address contamination while maintaining sustainability. The improvements that manufacturers are making to reverse osmosis (R.O.) systems reflect that.

R.O. systems can result in a reduction of the purchase of bottled water due to how greatly they diminish contaminants. However, the systems still have room for improvement due to the amount of wastewater they produce. The technology to reduce wastewater exists internationally and now the U.S. is looking to make the same progress.

Desalination

If people could drink from the ocean, there would be more than enough water for everyone. However, it would be necessary to remove the salt first.

There are about 2.2 billion people who do not have access to clean drinking water. For thousands of years, turning seawater into drinking water has been an option for this ongoing problem, although the process tends to be expensive and inefficient because it requires a lot of energy.

Kamalesh Sirkar, a chemical engineering professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has a new process that promises to make a difference. His direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) system heats seawater across a plastic membrane containing tubes filled with cold distilled water. The tubes have pores so that the water vapor that collects on them can penetrate into them, but not salt. The vapor can then condense back into liquid water.

This efficient system can produce 21 gallons of drinking water per 26 gallons of seawater, which is twice as much as most existing desalination technology. The downside of DCMD is the requirement of a heat source to prevent the water temperature on either side of the membrane from equalizing, although there is the potential of recycling waste heat to run the system.

A team of international scientists has achieved a similar accomplishment by using the sun to produce high-quality potable water. This process can meet the needs of an entire family at a cost of about $100 without using electricity. This team, consisting of scientists from MIT in the U.S. and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, believes that its system can provide water to islands and coastal areas that do not have reliable electricity but have access to seawater. With this system, the team produced 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water every hour for every square meter of the solar collecting area.

GivePower

Recently in Kenya, a nonprofit called GivePower has been able to successfully use solar power to create drinkable ocean water. In July 2018, a new desalination system began operations on the coast of Kiunga that can create 19,800 gallons of drinking water every day. That is enough for 25,000 people. This nonprofit’s main focus has been to provide solar-energy systems to developing countries. The organization has installed solar grids in 2,650 locations across 17 countries in places like schools, medical clinics and villages.

The success of this system is in finding a way to pull water out of the ocean in a scalable, sustainable way. The president of GivePower, Hayes Barnard, hopes to open similar facilities around the world, providing fresh water to people who struggle to get it on a daily basis.

At the rate that the population has been increasing, a freshwater crisis appears imminent. However, with the work that experts are putting into finding a solution, the possibilities for the future look bright. With environmentally friendly filtration systems and the successful production of drinkable ocean water, the population will all be able to drink deeply since there will be enough to go around.

Janice Athill
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in Papua New Guinea
Nestled on the eastern coast of the Island of New Guinea, just north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is home to the third-largest rainforest, over 839 spoken languages and countless commodities like cocoa, coffee and palm oil. The country boasts a diverse topography ranging from coastal towns and river valleys to mountainous highlands. The tribal communities within its borders are as diverse as the landscapes they inhabit. However, there is a lack of clean water in Papua New Guinea.

Lack of Clean Water and Sanitation Facilities

Despite its ecological diversity and recent economic development, the country still lacks one of the most vital resources of all: clean water. The consequences of the clean water and improved sanitation facility shortage are both dire and systematic. This affects current populations and the future prosperity of the country. The country ranks second-lowest in access to safe water in the world because of its wide range of challenging geographies which make accessing some rural areas nearly impossible. According to the World Bank Systematic Diagnostic, only 13 percent of rural areas have access to improved facilities. In addition, only 33 percent of rural areas have access to clean water in Papua New Guinea.

Consequences

Rural areas experiencing substantially lower levels of access are more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses such as dysentery, cholera, malaria and diarrhea. These illnesses are leading causes of the high infant mortality rate, which according to UNICEF’s most recent estimate is about 38 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to 2016 estimates, the mortality rate of diarrheal diseases from exposure to unsafe WASH services is 16.3 per 100,000.

Even in less severe instances, these shortcomings cause malnutrition and stunted growth. It is also a cause of socioeconomic obstacles such as lack of education due to infection. Additionally, this leads to reduced social mobility for communities in rural areas.

Water Access

The prevailing means of getting water is to carry it up from the river in jerry cans. This can be time-consuming and often dangerous for the women and girls burdened with the task. Some larger institutions with adequate roofing such as the Madan Coffee Plantation, hospitals and various schools are equipped with rain catchment systems. Those institutions will occasionally allow surrounding communities to access the water reserves at certain times during the day. The dry season lasts from June through September, during which even these communities rely on the river to supply their water. Larger water systems may also include sky hydrants. The sky hydrants utilize piping to bring water up from the river before sending it through a filtration system. Then, it will send the water back down to the communities in need. These systems are far less common as they require substantial financial resources for initial investment and cost of maintenance.

Sanitation Facilities

Lack of improved sanitation facilities is even more widespread and arguably more detrimental to the health of Papua New Guineans since many will take to the river as an alternative. When the Borgen Project interviewed Laura Elizabeth Combee, a nurse who volunteers with Water Hands Hope, about the water conditions in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, she said that “You just see people living in bamboo walls and you see people carrying water from the side of the mountain. And maybe the water is fine, but what are the people on top of the mountain doing? Do you know? So, you don’t know what is contaminating the water.”

One of the most effective alternatives is ash and hay toilets or composting toilets. This catches excrement in two separate compartments before respectively covering them with either ash or hay. This process allows for more sanitary water sources and allows populations to use the remnants as a fertilizer for agricultural purposes. While highly efficient, the use of these is not widespread as there is a lack of information and knowhow.

Water Hands Hope

One of the organizations working to remedy the shortage of clean water in Papua New Guinea is Water Hands Hope. Founded in 2014, the mission of this small Honolulu-based NGO is to use a network of local communities and volunteers to develop and implement WASH infrastructure, deliver community-based educational services and provide medical assistance and clinical work.

Laura Elizabeth Combee uses her medical knowledge to promote, educate and report on water sanitation in rural areas of Papua New Guinea. Two regions in which she volunteers are the Wagi Wan community surrounding the Madan Coffee Plantation and the town of Kundiawa, both located in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Participants in Water Hands Hope

During educational sessions, Water Hands Hope advises participant groups to boil water. This process would rid it of any parasites, viruses and protozoa. Additionally, it is the leading cause of waterborne illnesses.

Returning participants aware of the risks associated with unsterilized water grieve that without electricity, they often have to complete other more pressing tasks during the limited daytime, such as tending to the gardens for nourishment or working on the plantation. Lack of electricity is one of the main developmental obstacles that people in the country face.

Even if water systems are in place, there are plenty of hindrances that might deny people access to clean water in Papua New Guinea. Sometimes people have limited water access due to a lack of maintenance or a piece going missing and causing the whole system to be dysfunctional. Other times, the reasons might be because of culture or tradition.

Victoria-Maxine Haburka
Photo: Flickr