Water in the Nile RiverThe Nile, stretching 4,132 miles, is Africa’s longest river, running through 11 countries, including Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. It is an important water source for millions of people in Africa. Unfortunately, the river is subject to pollution, which poses a significant threat to those living in the countries that depend on it for water. The poor state of water in the Nile River is an issue that threatens the health and well-being of those living near its basin.

The Economic Significance of the Nile River

The Nile River is a vital source of economic activity in many African countries, particularly those in the Nile Basin region. The river supports various economic sectors, including agriculture, fishing, transportation and tourism. Agriculture remains a crucial sector for many African countries, particularly Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and water in the Nile River serves as a dependable source for irrigation. Farmers are able to cultivate crops year-round and, as a result, agriculture employs a significant percentage of the population.

In Egypt, the agriculture sector provides 28% of jobs and in Sudan, it employs 43% of the population. As of 2020, 75% of employed Ethiopians worked in the agriculture sector. Even though the Nile contains harmful pathogens and pollutants, it provides water and a means of livelihood for more than 200 million people. Inhabitants of the Nile region use the water for drinking, washing and cooking. People also engage in farming in the Nile Basin, growing crops like wheat, corn, banana and sweet potato.

Fishing in the Nile River provides employment for thousands of people. In addition, the industry contributes to the local economy through fish exportation. The river is also a major transportation route in many parts of Africa, and it also supports tourism in some African countries, including Egypt and Uganda.

The Nile River and its Impact on Poverty

Access to clean water in the Nile River remains a significant challenge, with agricultural activities involving pesticides and fertilizers contributing to the pollution problem. These chemicals can enter the river through runoff and irrigation, which can harm aquatic life and affect water quality. Alongside farming activities, the raw sewage and other waste products from industries and manufacturers go directly into the river. The harmful bacteria, viruses and other contaminants in the water can cause cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis, poliovirus and other waterborne disease. In turn, this can result in the endangerment of agricultural productivity and contribute to poverty.

Moreover, in recent years, water scarcity has become an increasing concern in the region. In 2020, Ethan D. Coffee and Justin S. Mankin reported that more than 30% of the people in the region could face water scarcity by 2040. This translates into more than 80 million people who may not be able to access water. This could also limit agricultural and fishing industries while decreasing labor employment.

Minimizing the Nile’s Impact on Poverty

The year 2021 marked a significant milestone in Egypt as the Bahr al-Baqar wastewater treatment plant commenced operations in the northern city of Sinai. Renowned as one of the most expansive wastewater treatment facilities globally, this plant possesses an impressive capacity to treat 5 million cubic meters of wastewater daily—equivalent to the water consumed in 140 million showers.

Aiming to tackle the multifaceted challenges affecting the Nile Basin, Egypt-based social enterprise Bassita launched the VeryNile project in 2018. This initiative focuses on enhancing water management practices. Its primary objective is to reduce poverty and foster economic growth within the Nile River Basin. The VeryNile project progresses in four key directions: cleaning, recycling, prevention and social impact.

Looking Ahead

While the issue of clean water in the Nile River remains unresolved, the ongoing initiatives could help avert more crises. Ultimately, initiatives like the VeryNile project that prioritizes promoting sustainable development practices and empowering local communities to participate in water management processes can potentially bring the tides of progress and lasting change.

– Anna Konovalenko
Photo: Flickr

Water For PeopleRecent statistics published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 25% or more of the global population lacks immediate access to clean drinking water, and almost 50% of the global population lives without safe sanitation at home. In light of this, Water For People, a U.S.-based international aid agency, aims to make clean water accessible to every person on the planet. Founded in 1991, the organization celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021. In that time, the organization has made remarkable progress and changed millions of lives around the world.

How Does Water For People Work?

Since 2011, Water For People’s strategy has centered on the concept of “Everyone Forever.” Recognizing the limitations of short-term solutions to the problem of water insecurity, the organization emphasizes developing secure, sustainable water supplies and equipping communities with the knowledge and resources necessary to maintain their water infrastructure over time. Its goal is to ensure that “every family, clinic and school in a district” has reliable access to clean drinking water and sanitation services forever: the progress continues rather than fading away in a couple of decades.

The organization concentrates on several core priorities. The number one priority is clean water. Working with local authorities, the organization manages water systems, arranges water supply chains and builds new facilities. It also works to implement safe sanitation and hygiene. In addition to helping families access affordable toilets, Water For People supports the development of local sanitation businesses and waste management systems and educates communities on safe sanitation and hygiene practices. In 2019 alone, the organization educated 269,361 people about safe hygiene, which included providing menstrual hygiene training and resources to help keep girls in school.

Where Does Water For People Help?

Since 1991, the organization has aided communities in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2011, the organization decided to narrow its focus to provide optimal support. Currently, Water For People operates in nine countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania and India.

In each of these countries, the organization targets districts most in need. While it is actively adding new districts within these countries, the organization’s largest presence is currently in India, where its work in 10 districts has provided more than 1.5 billion people with continuous access to drinking water. In Bolivia, the organization has secured the water supply for 82,706 people across eight districts, and, in Guatemala, for 102,607 people across four districts. With three districts each in Honduras and Peru, it has helped guarantee reliable access to clean water for 55,216 Hondurans and 40,000 Peruvians, respectively.

In Africa, the organization operates in four countries. It has established reliable water services for more than a million people in Rwanda, which has five districts. In Malawi, the organization operates in three districts, providing water for 1,435,599 people. Its work in Uganda has secured clean water for almost half a million people across two districts. Water For People is having a growing impact in Tanzania, where it has been working to improve water access for rural communities in Mpwapwa and began adding new districts in 2022.

What Are the Prospects?

In 2015, the United Nations set a sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): Clean Water and Sanitation. The goal is to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation services for everyone around the world by 2030. Water For People, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), developed the “Destination 2030” plan to help achieve SDG 6 on time. The joint initiative aims to speed progress toward universal safe water access and sanitation services by helping at least 200 million people in 20 countries.

The organization’s Three Year Strategic Plan for 2022-2024 is a stepping stone in this plan. Focusing on subgoals grouped under Purpose and Foundation, it outlines the immediate strategy to impact at least 12 countries, reach 25 million people nationally and help six million people locally.

During its 30 years of operation, Water For People has achieved concrete results. Working for both quality and quantity, the organization continues to set specific, achievable goals and move toward them.

– Anna Konovalenko
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in the Dominican Republic
Near the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic lies the poverty-stricken city of Independencia, where potable water is not a reality. Only 15% of inventoried water systems practiced chlorination in 2020, which has posed threats to human consumption. The poorest communities in the Dominican Republic rely on government-run faucets that provide a stream of contaminated water. When residents consume the bacteria-filled water, they increase their risk of contracting an illness.

Dominican residents frequently report water discoloration and odors which has led to an increase in bottled water consumption. Cholera and waterborne disease result from the lack of proper water treatment. Diarrhea is a common health complication that, left untreated, leads to the death of many island inhabitants. In 2017, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported 13,803 suspected cholera cases on the island of Hispaniola. In poverty-striken areas such as Independencia, there seems to be no option but to drink contaminated water, even with the consequences in mind. However, some efforts exist to provide clean water in the Dominican Republic.

The Impact of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters such as hurricanes and tropical storms that damage crops and destroy sewage systems have frequently ravaged the Dominican Republic. In 2017, Hurricane Maria affected much of the Caribbean, making recovery difficult due to a lack of resources. Damaged pipelines spread contaminated water, which left residents at risk of waterborne diseases. Natural disasters are the most significant contributor to the Dominican Republic’s water crisis, as bacteria destroy and corrupt pipelines. Feces and animal carcasses contaminate the water tanks, producing a toxic mixture of water, dirt, and animal materials that the community will likely ingest. Moreover, using polluted water for recreational purposes also infects the users.

Bottled Water

Because the poorest communities struggle to find clean water, they often turn to bottled water. Purified bottled water is beneficial for various tasks such as washing dishes, watering vegetation and brushing teeth. Consuming bottled water can better prevent infections. In the communities of the Dominican Republic, 40% of households spend roughly an eighth of their income on water. Unpurified water impacts those with weak immune systems the most. Children suffer from diarrhea and vomiting because of non-chlorinated water. In Batey Nueve, the community’s residents share water from the running free water tank. However, the water is not treated, which has led to widespread ingestion of contaminated water.

Civilians of the Dominican Republic find that their water is at unsafe levels causing acute health risks. Residents live in environments where people normalize waterborne diseases. With annual natural disasters damaging the sewage systems, more-and-more people are left with contaminated water that is actively impairing them. For many families, the only solution is to purchase bottled water. However, some do not have the income to consistently buy purified water, leading them to endanger their health by consuming tap water.

Efforts to Provide Clean Water in the Dominican Republic

Founded in 2008, the nonprofit Surge for Water invests in impoverished communities to help with water sanitation solutions. In 2016, Surge volunteers installed 45 water tanks, that improved water storage for almost 170 people in Baidoa. The organization subsequently provided 16 water filters which allowed 97% of their community to have purified water. Waterborne diseases such as cholera can be preventable when sanitation is prioritized.

Communities in the Dominican Republic are experiencing potable water scarcity, placing residents at risk of infection. Charities and organizations have implemented measures to provide clean water in the Dominican Republic and help Dominican residents prevent health complications. The CDC advises using treated or bottled water for consumption and recreational use when traveling to the Dominican Republic. With government efforts to keep sewage systems clean and to practice chlorination, communities will suffer fewer health complications due to water sanitation. A clean cup of water can be a life-changer for those that struggle to find it.

– Yv Maciel
Photo: Flickr

First Nations Water Crisis
Local health officials issue a boil water advisory when the water in a community is contaminated. When issued, it means the tap water is no longer safe to use unless boiled for at least one minute and buying bottled water for consumption is advisable. On June 20, 2022, the Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario reached the 10,000th day of being under a drinking water advisory issued by authorities. Twenty-seven years have passed since authorities first issued the advisory in 1995 after the water treatment plant failed to produce safe drinking water. The Neskantaga First Nation holds the record for the longest boil water advisory in the nation and is a stark example of the First Nations water crisis that has been ongoing for decades.

Unfulfilled Promises

In 2015, Justin Trudeau made a campaign promise to bring clean water to Indigenous communities and end the First Nations water crisis in a span of five years. However, according to The Guardian, the deadline set by Trudeau passed with 52 advisories still active across 33 communities in Canada as of April 2021.

For decades, Indigenous communities have been forced to create and manage their own water treatment systems, which often means procuring bottled water on their own or simply using the contaminated water if the prices become too steep. Countless families, especially those living in areas where the water has traces of E. coli or uranium, are more susceptible to skin diseases, gastrointestinal issues and more.

Decades of inaction from the federal government and lack of adequate funding prompted chiefs and leaders of the First Nations to collectively sue the federal government in 2019 for failing to provide clean water in a country rich with water resources.

The Good News

According to The New York Times, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in favor of the First Nations and approved a legal settlement requiring the government to invest at least $6 billion CAD toward solving the First Nations water crisis in the next nine years. The government will provide compensation of $1.5 billion CAD to around 140,000 Indigenous people for the damages arising from contaminated water.

Chief Emily Whetung, a lawyer leading the Curve Lake First Nation, mentioned that many communities will be unable to feel the benefits of the settlement, especially those who rely predominantly on private wells. However, she still expressed her excitement at this legal success. “I’m just so thrilled,” she said to The New York Times. “Now that we’ve turned this corner, we can keep going down this road and ensure that we get access to clean drinking water for all First Nations.”

Activism in Indigenous Communities

However, other activists, such as Autumn Peltier, are also doing all they can to ensure Trudeau’s promise does not become an empty one. Her influence started in 2016 when she called out Trudeau publicly during the Assembly of First Nations for his failure to protect the water in her communities. According to APTN News, in the few moments she had to speak to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, she said, “I am very unhappy with the choices you’ve made.” Additionally, Trudeau said, “I understand that.” Trudeau responded with a commitment: “I will protect the water.”

Since then, Peltier has dedicated her work to ensuring Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise became reality. She became the chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and began a career advocating for the importance of clean water, consistently calling Trudeau out online for the lack of progress toward his promise. Having spoken with organizations such as the United Nations, she has also received nominations for the International Children’s Peace Prize on multiple occasions.

Looking Ahead

Although the path to completely solving the First Nations water crisis may be difficult, the legal settlement is a critical first step to bringing clean water to the Indigenous communities of Canada. With the help of activists placing pressure on the federal government, hopefully, it will just be a matter of time before the people of First Nations can enjoy the same right as all other Canadians: the right to clean, safe water.

Emilie Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Jal Jeevan Mission
According to UNICEF, in 2017, less than half of India’s people had “access to safely managed drinking water.” Furthermore,  contamination of water is a serious issue and two-thirds of all Indian districts endure “extreme water depletion,” so many of India’s citizens cannot access water or have to trek long distances to access it. This national issue disproportionately affects women and children as they are the ones typically responsible for gathering and transporting water. However, since August 2019, the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), run by the Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, has aimed to provide all houses in rural India with functioning tap water by 2024.

Current Water Issue Impacts

According to Forbes, every year, about 37.7 million people in India suffer waterborne diseases due to unsafe water and 1.5 million Indian children lose their lives due to diarrhea arising from contaminated water. Water sources contaminated with fluoride, arsenic and other chemicals negatively impact the health of Indian people. Annually, India loses 73 million days of labor due to waterborne illnesses. Altogether, India faces an economic burden of $600 million per year as a result of the associated costs of waterborne diseases. A National Geographic article published in 2020 said that 21% of India’s communicable illnesses were due to unclean water.

The lack of water also causes other issues in Indian society. Women and children are often responsible for going on long treks for water if there is no available source of water near their communities. Many children are unable to attend school and women cannot participate in education or paid employment because they must retrieve water for their families.

Because of these conditions, the JJM is working to ensure all rural houses in India have functioning tap water by 2024.

How the Jal Jeevan Mission is Making a Difference

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Jal Javeen Mission in 2019. Its mission is to provide safe and accessible drinking water by allowing families to access water from their own homes through household tap connections. It works with the states in India to ensure water security and accessibility are available for all citizens. Since the launch of the mission, by September 1, 2022, JJM provided 43.18% of India’s rural households with tap connections. As of September 2022, 52% of the nation’s rural houses have access to functional tap connections.

Not only does the JJM work to provide rural houses in India with tap connections but it also aims to ensure schools have access to convenient clean water. By June 2022, JJM had assisted 860,000 schools and 890,000 daycare centers with access to a clean and safe water supply.

More women are actively involved in community issues about water. As many as 1 million women have received training from JJM to ensure safe water quality water through the use of field safety kits. Additionally, women comprise 50% of the members of 496,000 established Village Water and Sanitation Committees. Women are now playing a key role in discussions and decisions pertaining to clean water access in communities.

Looking Ahead

Ultimately, the Jal Jeevan Mission has allowed more rural households in India access to safe and clean water. This will bring about better health in communities as waterborne diseases become less prevalent. More children can attend schools and women no longer have to endure the burden of walking long distances to fetch clean water. All of this is thanks to the Jal Jeevan Mission and its goal to provide all rural houses in India with functioning tap water by 2024.

– Janae O’Connell
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Clean Drinking Water in India
In India, despite the country being the second most populated in the world, less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water. This barrier brings a heavy toll. Aside from the humanitarian cost, UNICEF estimates that diseases from unsanitary drinking water cost India $600 million each year. Contamination of drinking water, as well as the depletion of natural groundwater, has plagued the Indian government’s attempts to expand water access to its citizens. The two main chemical contaminants of water in India are fluoride and arsenic. According to UNICEF, 1.96 million homes in India have chemically contaminated water. Although the United States has disbursed approximately $110 million to India in foreign aid, foreign assistance is not the only way India is hoping to combat water insecurity. JanaJal, a New Delhi-based water purification company, has made strides toward providing clean drinking water in India.

What is JanaJal?

A flagship initiative from Supremus Developers, brothers Parag and Anurag Agarwal launched JanaJal in 2013 with the mission to provide clean, safe drinking water in India. In its nine years of existence, according to its website, JanaJal has:

  • Provided more than 108 million liters of clean drinking water.
  • Eliminated more than 33 million single-use plastic through its Water ATMs.
  • Reduced water waste by conserving more than 60 million liters of water.

JanaJal prides itself on being “technology agnostic,” which means they are not bound to one specific technology to attain its goals. This allows the company to be flexible and cater to the needs of specific areas across India.

Clean Drinking Water in India

According to water.org, 91 million people lack access to safe water in India. Part of the issue is fecal contamination. Approximately 15% of the population in India openly defecates, which leads to fecal matter ending up in water sources. Additionally, 62% of Indian households do not treat their water, with treatment less common in rural areas. Waterborne illnesses infect roughly 37 million Indians each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In rural communities without access to water supplies at home, the burden of water collection often falls on the women of the families. In 2018, 40% of girls aged 15-18 were not in school, many of them burdened with housework and supporting their families, including the task of gathering water. Women empowerment is one of JanaJal’s four success metrics. In 2020, 40% of JanaJal businesses were women-owned, a statistic the company hopes to increase to 50% by 2024. JanaJal’s business model has helped empower women by allowing them to become entrepreneurs running local Water ATMs.

Water ATMs

Water ATMs are exactly what they sound like: an easy access point to vend safe water. In 2020, JanaJal had 755 water ATMs and safe water access points across the country. Each water ATM can dispense up to 15,000 liters of water a day. Additionally, the water ATMs can dispense water in a variety of amounts depending on the need. JanaJal’s newest initiative may be their most impactful yet as the company expands.

Water on Wheels (WOW)

Delhi, where JanaJal is headquartered, recently approved the implementation of seven Water on Wheels (WOW) within the Badarpur area. Water on Wheels is a custom-built electric vehicle with GPS technology to deliver water to the doorsteps of houses. WOWs have been quickly proving their worth, as they were one of five technologies that the Indian government recommended for its states and union territories to implement.

JanaJal’s impact on India’s water crisis is widespread. By providing access to clean drinking water, JanaJal has helped reduce waterborne illnesses, water contamination and plastic waste in the South Asian country. Though tackling India’s water crisis is a daunting task, JanaJal seems up for the challenge.

Emma Rushworth
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Harvesting Rainwater
Harvesting rainwater involves collecting and storing rainwater for future use. The uses of rainwater include drinking, bathing or cleaning. Because about 2.2 billion people around the world still lack clean water, harvesting rainwater is essential in collecting clean water. In India, about 54% of the subcontinent faces an extreme lack of clean water.

India’s Traditional Ways to Harvest Rainwater

India utilized the practice of harvesting rainwater for generations. Rural parts of India especially depend on harvesting rainwater to water crops, clean and do laundry and simply have something to drink.

One traditional rainwater harvesting method is surangas. It is one of the lesser-known methods of harvesting rainwater. It is mostly used in the Kasaragod district in the state of Kerala, which lies in the southeastern part of India on the peninsula.

Suranga is a type of horizontal tunnel in a hill. Waters flow through these tunnels into ponds. Suranga is a lifeline for the people in Kasaragod to meet their needs for drinking water.

Another common form of harvesting rain involves taankaas. Taankaas are underground tanks that serve as a reservoir. Taankaas provide water during times of water scarcity to 10,000 homes in the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarati near the Sabarmati River.

The Dangers of Harvesting Rainwater

Although harvesting rainwater is a simple and inexpensive method of collecting clean water, poorly maintained systems can be detrimental to users. Rainwater can flow over contaminated surfaces and collect parasites, bacteria and other harmful substances. The substances can cause diseases that would otherwise be avoidable.

The best way to avoid disease from rainwater is to use the water collected for cleaning or watering plants. However, since rainwater may be the only clean water source in India, citizens need to use it for drinking and cooking. The population in India can use a filtration system of chemicals to purify the water but sometimes they do not have the means to do so. Boiling the water is an inexpensive and simple way to quickly clean rainwater.

The Cost Effectiveness of Harvesting Rainwater

Despite the dangers of rainwater, it is still a safe and cost-effective method to collect clean water when used efficiently. The water collection depends on the area where people are catching the rainwater and the amount of rainfall in a particular region.

For example, a home in Delhi, India can catch up to 42,000 liters of water. With a terrace of 100 square meters and an average annual rainfall of 600 millimeters in Delhi, the 42,000 liters collected are twice as much as a family of five requires.

The installation of harvesting systems can occur at a low cost. If a family of five in Delhi can collect twice the amount of water it needs, the benefits outweigh the cost of installation and maintenance.

Although India suffers from water scarcity, innovative solutions including harvesting rainwater help relieve the stress of the water supply and provide safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Chris Karenbauer
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

Water scarcity in EthiopiaEthiopia’s water supply is scarce — only 42% of the population has access to clean water. For those that don’t have access to clean water, women bear the brunt of the work to get it for their families. Therefore, water scarcity in Ethiopia is, though some might not realize it, a women’s issue.

While men work and try to earn money, mothers, wives, and young girls carry the water burden, both physically and metaphorically. These women walk long distances, often three hours or more to get clean water for drinking, bathing, washing clothes and more. These long distances take away valuable time from these women’s lives. Mothers often have to bring their young children on these long journeys or risk leaving them by themselves. Instead of spending time taking care of their children or working, many take six to eight hours every day collecting water and returning home. As for young girls, many sacrifice their education to get water, causing their chances of escaping poverty to dwindle. Women also have to carry heavy jerry cans for long distances, which could lead to physical strain or other health issues.

The Economics of Water Scarcity in Ethiopia

Water scarcity in Ethiopia affects 61 million people who do not have access to safe water. Although the water that they have access to may not be safe, many Ethiopians have no choice but to pay for their dangerous water supply. Water from sources like unprotected ponds and shallow wells can cost some Ethiopians around 20% of their total income.

Since this water is not safe, many people also get sick from water-borne illnesses like cholera and diarrhea, which takes time, money and energy away from working or finding a way to earn money, catapulting Ethiopians further into poverty.

Organizations Helping Supply Water

There are several organizations with a mission to supply water to people in countries that face water scarcity, including Ethiopia. WaterAid UK is one of these organizations. The organization supplies areas with a scarce water supply, like remote villages, with access to clean water. For example, WaterAid UK installed a 400-meter pipe from a spring which pipes water down to the center of the village of Ferenji in Ethiopia. The organization has supplied 26.4 million people with clean water since its establishment in 1981.

Another organization bringing clean water to Ethiopia is charity:water. Founded in 2006, charity:water uses different methods including piped systems, hand-dug wells, drilled wells, gravity-fed systems, spring protections and latrines to provide Ethiopians with clean water. Their efforts so far have helped 3,025,007 Ethiopians gain access to safe water.

A Progressive Future

Water scarcity in Ethiopia proves to be a burden for women, causing them to sacrifice work, education, money and providing for their families. Many do not have a choice but to make the long treks to retrieve clean water, but several organizations use their resources and funds to build water sources for Ethiopians. These efforts will help lessen the water burden for women across Ethiopia and allow them to focus on progress for themselves and their families.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Flickr

Biological Activated Carbon Filtration SystemsIndia is one of the many nations experiencing problems generating clean water for its population. More than 50% of India’s population cannot access safe drinking water. Like most of the world, the country currently adds chlorine to most of its drinking water sources to kill parasites, bacteria and viruses. While chlorination is effective at killing harmful pollutants, it generates harmful disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that include haloacetic acids (HAAs). These byproducts have links to colon cancer, negative reproductive effects during pregnancy and bladder cancer. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology studying the Ganga River, a water source for more than 200,000 Indian citizens, have found an effective way to remove most haloacetic acids from their drinking water. Using biological activated carbon filtration systems, the researchers were able to minimize HAAs.

The Situation Globally

Clean water is essential for life. With access to safe water, societies can turn their problems into potential and their citizens can flourish. Unfortunately, according to Water.org, almost 795 million people (one in nine) lack access to adequate drinking water and more than two billion people do not have toilets. Additionally, 4.2 billion people lack adequate sanitation services whereas three billion cannot access proper handwashing stations.

The effects of the water crisis are not limited to just health. The time that people spend finding passable water and safe sanitation accounts for billions in lost economic opportunities. Water.org has estimated that people lose $260 billion each year from subpar basic water and sanitation. Further, many children lose time enriching their education because they have to collect water for their families.

Issues revolving around accessibility to clean water will only increase in the years to come. Experts predict that water demand is going to increase over the next 30 years due to over-exploited groundwater, population growth, urbanization and rising industrial demand. However, recent technological advancements using biological activated carbon filtration systems could provide a simple and cost-effective solution.

Benefits of Biological Carbon Filtration Systems

Biologically enhanced active carbon filters combine the processes of ozonation and granular activated carbon. The removal of organic compounds within activated carbon filters offers many benefits. Among these benefits are decreased dissolved organic carbon and hydrogen sulfide. Researchers studying the Ganga River found that biological carbon filtration systems proved effective at reducing 75.8% of the harmful HAAs from the water source allowing it to meet U.S. EPA water standards.

However, these biofilters do have some minor drawbacks. They are unable to remove other contaminants such as iron and nitrate. Therefore, filters such as green sand or reverse osmosis (RO) may be necessary with the biological activated carbon filters to remove all potentially harmful pollutants from the water.

Optimistic Future in Water Filtration Technology

While the current statistics portray a harrowing present and future for clean drinking water accessibility, there are still reasons to remain optimistic. In India, biological activated carbon filtration systems coupled with chlorination are an effective and cost-effective method to increase clean water accessibility. If one adds reverse osmosis to this method and increases the scale, the Indian population could have nearly perfect drinking water.

As the international community continues to invest and filtration technology improves, the number of citizens lacking access to clean water and sanitation will rapidly decrease.

– Winston Davis
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