Sanitation in Pakistan
Pakistan had a population of 210 million people as of 2017 and is the world’s fifth-most populous country. Further, it is surprising that Pakistan’s GDP has grown 3.3 percent in a single year considering that 24 percent of its population lives below the national poverty line. Poverty has contributed to citizens’ ongoing struggle with inadequate sanitation. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Pakistan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Pakistan

  1. Pakistan is among the top 10 countries in the world that lack access to clean water. The nonprofit organization WaterAid conducted a study revealing that 21 million people out of the country’s total population lack access to clean water. Out of Pakistan’s total population, 79.2 percent of the rural poor have access to clean water. On the other hand, 98 percent of Pakistan’s rich have access to clean water. 
  2. Seventy-nine million people in Pakistan do not have access to a proper toilet. According to WaterAid.org, every two out of five people, or the majority of people living in poor rural areas, do not have access to a toilet. The lack of adequate facilities can create additional problems for citizens, such as bacterial infection or diarrhea. In fact, 16,800 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea each year. WaterAid is currently working to combat the sanitation issue in Pakistan by working with government and local officials to provide proper toilet facilities throughout disadvantaged communities.
  3. Pakistan’s women and young girls often stay at home rather than partaking in normal activities, due to a lack of menstruation supplies and proper facilities. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 75 percent of women stay at home during menstruation. Due to a lack of resources and cleaning facilities, many girls have no choice but to use unsanitary methods for managing menstruation, such as homemade sanitary pads. Further, these methods are prone to cause vaginal infections as a result of reuse. 
  4. Improper sanitation and food storage are some of the major sanitation issues in Pakistan. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reveals the prevalence of illness from improper food care. Contamination of food due to washing it in unsanitary water sources can cause bacteria like E. Coli, salmonella and other pathogens to enter the human body, causing severe illness.
  5. Waterborne diseases are prevalent as a result of untreated drinking water. According to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), 62 percent of the urban population and 84 percent of the rural population of Pakistan do not treat their drinking water to prevent waterborne diseases. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that 40 percent of all diseases in Pakistan are due to unsanitary drinking water.
  6. Stunted growth due to unsanitary conditions affects 38 percent of children in Pakistan. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) found that unsanitary conditions like drinking and bathing in unsanitary water stunt growth. In the state of Sindh, stunted growth affects 50 percent of children, which can also cause cognitive development stunting. The consequences of stunting are irreversible, causing lifelong implications for the child into adulthood. Working with these communities, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun a stunting reduction program to work with families to provide children with clean water and facilities to fight against poor sanitation in Pakistan.
  7. The misuse of pesticides in Pakistan’s agricultural fields results in an annual death rate of 10,000 people per year from agrochemical poisoning. Around 500,000 people fall ill annually as a result, although most are fortunate to recover. When people do not properly use pesticides, they can persist through rain and flooding, eventually entering water sources. People drink these water sources, in turn causing illness. Training is crucial for agricultural workers to properly prevent water contamination.
  8. The population growth rate has been climbing since the late 1900s. According to the United Nations, the total population of the country will reach 220 million people by mid-2020. A researcher with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) stresses that millions of people still live without access to clean drinking water, which includes large metropolitan cities where drinking water is scarce. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) recommendation for government intervention to bring clean water to overpopulated areas should help improve sanitation in Pakistan.
  9. The lack of proper toilet facilities is a part of 41 million people’s lives in Pakistan. According to The United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the lack of toilets leaves people with no choice but to practice open defecation, which can lead to the spread of diseases among communities. Pakistan is the third-largest country where people practice open defecation. UNICEF is working with the government to help build toilet facilities for communities that need them to ultimately improve sanitation in Pakistan. These facilities are especially important for girls to protect them against assault, which happens often during open defecation.
  10. Only two cities in Pakistan — Islamabad and Karachi — have biological waste facilities. These facilities clean only about 8 percent of wastewater due to limited functioning, even with the already limited number of facilities to filter wastewater. Industrial waste also pollutes water in Pakistan. Out of 6,000 of the country’s registered businesses, 1,228 have “highly polluted” water sources. Government officials are working towards improving water treatment centers. Pakistan established the National Water Policy (NWP) to ensure that the country applies 10 percent of national funding to the development and repair of water infrastructure.

Pakistan’s impoverished citizens experience sanitation issues the most. The solutions are fairly simple but Pakistan’s acceptance of outside support will be a substantial step. If one considers the progress that Pakistan is already making to change the lives of people facing sanitation challenges in Pakistan, it is clear that the country should be able to implement real change and help communities thrive for years to come.

– Amelia Sharma
Photo: Flickr

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

10 Facts About Sanitation in AnguillaAnguilla is a Caribbean island about half the size of Washington D.C., nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Its tropical climate and terrain of low-lying coral and limestone have all contributed to this beautiful island’s dramatic water crisis. With a population of only 18,090, islanders have survived the island’s dry environment for more than 300 years. With careful husbandry, water conservation and the use of cisterns, Anguillans have found ways to make their erratic rainfall schedule work for them even during unpredictable drought periods, which can last up to three or four months. As access to improved sanitation facilities increases and tourism flourishes, the islands underground aquifer has been pushed to capacity. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Anguilla and how they contribute to the depletion of the island’s supply of drinking water.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Anguilla

  1. In 1995, improved water sources were only available to 57 percent of the Anguillian population. Improved sanitation facilities include the use of a “flush or pour-flush sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine; pit latrine with slab or a composting toilet.” In 2011, records showed an increase to 95 percent. By 2015, that number increased again to 97.9 percent of the population; at least 98 percent of those facilities were flush toilets.
  2. Because Anguilla does not have rivers, its drinking water consists of collected rain, wells connected to underground aquifers and desalination. Reportedly in 2000, 60 percent of the population had access to drinking water. Later, 61 percent of households indicated that their main source is from bottled water.
  3. At least 73 percent of the Anguillan population still gathers water from a cistern that pipes water into their homes. The same report from 2011 says that 15 percent of the population used the public water piped into their homes. At least 4 percent used a “public standpipe, well or tank.”
  4. The poor quality of water obtained from cisterns is of concern it is used for drinking purposes in addition to other domestic uses. Contaminants from rainwater can grow in containers like cisterns. They pose a health threat to those consuming the water. Pathogens like bacteria, viruses and Protozoa in cisterns can be treated with chlorine. However, chlorine can lose effectiveness within 24 hours of entering a cistern and these microorganisms that are transmitted in water can cause disease, which includes the potential of death.
  5. A combination of agricultural fertilizer, animal wastes as well as wastewater run-off from domestic and commercial septic tanks are seeping untreated into groundwater. This causes a chemical pollution problem for what little drinking water the island does have.
  6. Nitrate concentrations are increasing in most of the production and test wells connected to the underground aquifer. For many years, Anguilla’s aquifer has been subjected to periodic laboratory analysis by those concerned with public health and environmental quality. It shows nitrate concentrations in excess of the maximum acceptable drinking water limit.
  7. Pollution in groundwater that spills into coastal ponds and phosphates from detergents in domestic wastewater provide the right chemical nutrients to accelerate the growth and proliferation of unpleasant marine algae. This creates murky coastal waters, prevents coral growth.
  8. Chronic illnesses and diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer from which Anguillans suffer are believed to be a result of the poor quality of water that they drink. In an attempt to improve the health of the population, Ms. Ursuline Joseph of Dominica has recommended a solution to create acceptable levels of alkaline in water. X20 is “a mineral-rich alkaline product” containing 77 different types of minerals to prevent diseases from developing in the body. Manufactured by Xooma, X20 originates from an ocean source off the coast of Japan. When the powdered product is added to 1.5 liters of water, it alkalizes with minerals and becomes healthier to drink.
  9. Anguilla’s primary water management problems arise out of the fact that there is not very much to manage. With an annual average rainfall of about 40 inches per year. Evaporation rates can reach 70 inches per year during droughts. The number of wells dug into the aquifer over the years is unknown. However, professional hydrologists and water engineers worry about the prospect of over-pumping in the near future. That being said, professionals are finding themselves less worried about the amount of groundwater left and more concerned with the quality of the groundwater itself.
  10. Pure Aqua provides a range of filtration and economical solutions to meet Anguilla’s water needs based on its resources. Focusing on reverse osmosis and water treatment, Pure Aqua manufactures and supplies high-quality water treatment systems built with cutting-edge technology. It custom-designs its systems for specific applications across many different industries. Anguilla has only a few options for sources of water. These include surface water, desalination, groundwater and government water. Pure Aqua provides systems with the ability to treat any of these sources with a host of different methods such as ultrafiltration systems, media water filters, brackish water RO, seawater reverse osmosis systems, chemical dosing, UV sterilizers and water softeners.

The demand for water resulting from the expansion of new residential areas and tourism facilities has devastated groundwater supply in Anguilla. The root problem is that pumping rates at the wells now in use are maxed out. Trying to extract more water would risk the structural integrity and possibly allow seawater intrusion, thus destroying the aquifer. Sanitation as a whole has seen enormous strides forward while also being part of the reason pollution threatens the water sources that are available.

Janice Athill
Photo: Wikimedia

Securing Water for Food
Water is the most basic necessity. Every living thing on this planet requires water in distinct quantities. Water as a diminishing resource seems like a distant nightmare for the great-great-grandchildren of this generation. However, in actuality, civilizations could be closer to having too little fresh water than they realize. People use approximately 70 percent of the world’s fresh water for agriculture and Dr. Ku McMahan stated that more than half of the world’s population could be without enough fresh water to meet basic needs like hygiene, growing food and having enough to drink by 2025. Luckily, the Securing Water For Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (SWFF) came into being to help solve this emerging problem.

At World Water Week in Stockholm in 2014, USAID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency came together to pose crucial questions about how to grow more food while using less water and simultaneously supporting small farms. They determined the answer to be sustainable agriculture.

USAID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, along with the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of South African Department of Science and Technology, came together to launch an experimental program to help tackle the problem. Together they have gathered inventors and innovators working to improve farming and water usage with the resources and expertise to refine and test their inventions, help them reach more farmers and develop financially sustainable businesses.

The Program

SWFF is one of USAID’s 10 Grand Challenges. As of 2018, this program has in most cases exceeded the expectations of the program at its inception. According to the SWFFs semi-annual report in 2014, it expected the program to reach 3 million customers with sponsored innovators by 2018 (the original end-date of the program). Before the end of the program, SWFF innovators reached a combined 3.6 million smallholder farmers, their families and other customers.

SWFF’s 2017 annual report states how difficult it is to create financially sustainable enterprises while meeting the needs of extreme-poor and low-income households. Taking on the challenge of measuring poverty for specific innovations across an innovation portfolio, SWFF continues to make progress toward improving incomes and yields of farmers who are at or near their country’s poverty line. Estimates determine that 62 percent of innovation customers and end-users in the program at this time are at or near their country’s poverty line. SWFF more often focuses its efforts on assisting customers and end-users near the poverty line who could fall back into poverty easily with an economic shock or prolonged economic stressors.

Attention To Detail

Through research and attention to detail, the Securing Water For Food program was able to realize that 41 percent of its customers and end-users own their land and have multiple income streams. However, they have a very limited income overall, with little to spend on anything outside of their agricultural necessities. These low-income farmers caused a few difficulties within the experiment by selling the fish feed the program provided to them in order to make a quick profit.

To make its product more affordable, the SWFF innovator Water Governance Institute (WGI) introduced a prototype of its semi-commercial unit with an improved design. It has the same capacity as the older model at a 67 percent reduction in price. With this, WGI has helped generate nearly $30,000 in farmer income during the last two years.

The Result

SWFF innovators used every $1,000 of donated funds to impact 156 customers, produce 282 tons of crops, reduce water consumption by more than 832,000 liters and improve water management on 86 hectares of agricultural land, all while generating more than $200 in sales. They also used more than 2.4 million hectares of grazing lands and cropland under improved practices to help produce nearly 4 million tons of food. Expecting to reduce water consumption by 3.6 billion, the Securing Water For Food program outdid itself by tripling that amount and reducing 11.4 billion liters compared to traditional practices by the project’s target end date in 2018.

Sweden has more than a dozen ongoing water-related projects, including but not limited to its Less is More project focusing on the energy-efficient removal of micro-pollutants in wastewater and Aquanet, which studies the resistance and resilience of an ecosystem due to disturbances and environmental disturbances. Through SWFF’s partnership with the USAID, the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the South African Department of Science and Technology, it has been able to make strong, positive strides in producing sustainable agriculture.

– Janice Athill
Photo: Flickr

Access To Clean Water In Haiti
People know Haiti for its unfair labor practices, poor road conditions and deforestation. It is the third-largest country in the Caribbean, just east of Cuba and west of the Dominican Republic. The country has a rich history but has seemingly been unable to regain its footing. Access to clean water in Haiti has been an ongoing and seemingly never-ending issue.

Poverty in Haiti

Haiti’s economic growth has met some serious deterrents due to poverty, corruption and vulnerability to natural disasters including hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The country currently remains the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Poverty in Haiti is at a high. More than six million Haitians are living under the national poverty line of $2.41 per day with more than 2.5 million living under the national extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day. Most of Haiti’s population either do not have employment or are underemployed and the economic activity continues to slow down due to the negative impact of both Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

According to the World Bank, Haiti was in such high debt that it required debt forgiveness. Despite receiving more than $8.4 billion in aid since 1980, Haiti remains poorer today than it was 30 years ago. Aid has helped keep Haiti poor and it has sustained poor government policies that have led to debt, not development.

Access to Clean Water in Haiti

Though more Haitians have gained access to improved drinking water over the last decade, water still presents difficulties for the population in Haiti. Currently, only the houses of the wealthy in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital and the major regional towns have running water. The mass majority of Haiti’s population does not have access to potable water and the death and disease related to water is critical. In fact, 80 percent of all diseases in Haiti are waterborne.

Roughly three-fourths of Haitian households lack running water and unsafe water, along with inadequate housing and unsanitary living conditions. Pollution from human waste and other waste is prevalent in most of the Haitian rivers. Haitian people residing in the countryside receive water through piped water systems with standpipes or water points with hand pumps. However, many of the water systems there are not operational due to the lack of funds for operation and maintenance. Today, 42.3 percent of Haiti’s total population struggles with access to clean drinking water, while at least 72.4 percent of its population struggles with access to improved sanitation facilities such as toilets, indoor plumbing and sewage systems.

The World Bank

The World Bank is putting forth efforts to aid in the country’s access to clean water and poverty. The main goal is to support the country’s efforts to provide economic opportunities for all of its people and to combat poverty. With the World Bank’s support, Haiti has been able to obtain significantly unmeasurable results. The World Bank has assisted in Haiti’s increased access to drinking water for more than 314,000 people through the construction, rehabilitation and extension of drinking water supply systems. It has made it possible for emergency response in six municipalities to prevent the resurgence of waterborne diseases.

The World Bank has also launched a new program that will allow more than 300,000 Haitians to gain access to improved water sources through household connections and water kiosks. Additionally, it will give 50,000 improved sanitation and 100,000 small repairs and expansions of existing water systems.

MDGs Help Haiti Move Forward

The political instability, natural disasters and social unrest have prevented Haiti from reaching its potential and it also keeps the country in standing as one of the poorest and least equal countries in the world. However, Haiti has made significant progress in stabilizing and eventually lowering the poverty rates. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report, the national poverty rate is 58.6 percent and the extreme poverty rate is 24.7 percent. The implementation of MDGs should cut the poverty rate in Haiti in half.

According to Sophie de Caen, the UNDP Haiti Senior Country Director, “Poverty reduction is the number one priority to the Haitian Government and its people, and the MDGs call for a concrete and coordinated action by the United Nations system and bilateral and multilateral donors to build the State’s capacity to achieve these development goals.” With the help of the World Bank Group, the Haitian government and community involvement, Haiti should be well on its way to regaining its rich history and improving its access to clean water in Haiti while reducing poverty.

– Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Brazil
With a population of over 200 million people, Brazil stands as one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Its large population begs a simple question; does Brazil have an adequate amount of resources, including clean water, to support its people? Unfortunately, sanitation in Brazil is far from ideal, but the good news is that the country’s access to clean water has been steadily improving since 2010. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in Brazil.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Brazil

  1. Sewage Treatment: According to a Forbes article from early 2015, only around 47 percent of people in Brazil had access to sewage services and only 63 percent of the sewage was treated. This means that Brazil collected and treated less than 30 percent of the sewage that its residents produced.
  2. Urban Sewage Collection: In terms of the urban population in Brazil, around 55 percent had access to sewage collection. Meanwhile, less than 35 percent actually received sewage treatment.
  3. Unequal Water and Sanitation Access: Though it has about a fifth of the world’s water supply, there is unequal access to water and sanitation in Brazil. Only 43 percent of the poorest 40 percent of the population had access to toilets that connect to the country’s sanitation networks in 2013.
  4. Industrial Effluents: According to the World Bank in 2016, Brazil found industrial effluents, such as heavy metals, in bodies of water. As a result, surrounding rivers are unsafe sources for water and this has forced cities around the region to find water from distant basins and wells. The World Bank also stated that the expected growth of industrial complexes would likely worsen this problem in the near future.
  5. Wealth Inequality: In 2014, the top 20 cities for sanitation in Brazil reportedly spent twice as much as the 10 worst cities, meaning that a key source of the sanitation problems plaguing Brazil is wealth inequality. In 2017, Brazil was also reportedly behind poorer countries like Peru and Bolivia in terms of how sanitary it is.
  6. National Public Sanitation Plan: Brazil established a National Public Sanitation Plan over a decade ago in order to provide 93 percent of Brazilian houses with a proper sewage system and a safe water supply. According to The Brazilian Report, however, it may take until 2050 for it achieve its goal.
  7. Deforestation: In 2017, reports showed that Sao Paulo is in danger of devastating water shortages as a result of deforestation in the Amazon forest. As a result of this, the mayor of Sao Paulo issued a statement about the importance of preserving the rainforest and promoting recycling.
  8. Water Shortages: In 2014-2015, Sao Paulo faced a severe drought that led to the declaration of a state of calamity. In cities like Itu, the water shortage became so bad that people fought over and looted emergency water trucks and some communities resorted to using buckets from swimming pools in order to flush their toilets.
  9. Safe Water and Sanitation: According to Water.org, there are currently around 4 million people in Brazil who do not have access to safe water. Meanwhile, there are around 24 million people who do not have proper sanitation.
  10. The WaterCredit Solution: In 2014, Brazil became an important country for the expansion of Water.org’s WaterCredit solution. This solution aims to offer improvements regarding water and sanitation in Brazil through a collaboration with local partners and financial institutions. According to the Water.org website, this program has reached 9,000 people, and its partners dispursed $2.2 million in loans.

In general, the key takeaway is that despite its fairly large economy, sanitation in Brazil has a long way to go. Due to its large population, organizations like Water.org and the National Public Sanitation Plan will need to do significant work in order to ensure that Brazil will evenly distribute water and sanitation among its citizens.

– Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Roads for Water Benefits Infrastructure
Infrastructure is the physical and organizational structures necessary for the operation of a society or enterprise. This includes buildings, bridges and roadways. Roadways are a significant factor in ending poverty. Without safe roads, children are unable to go to school, employees cannot get to work safely and supplies like food and water cannot reach remote areas where poverty is most prevalent. The lack of clear infrastructure creates a tremendous economic and social cost. In fact, over 1.1 billion people are without electricity across the globe, which is 16 percent of the world’s population. Additionally, almost 663 million people across the globe lack access to clean water and 2.4 billion people have no sanitation. Even more astounding is that one-third of the world’s population does not have access to all-weather roads. Roads for Water benefits infrastructure by improving road maintenance costs while providing water that people can use.

Roads for Water

Roads for Water is part of a larger association of organizations aiming to promote road water harvesting. The consortium mainly focuses efforts in areas with severe poverty including Africa, the Middle East and parts of South America. Road water harvesting involves using roads as major instruments of water management and sustainability. Further, the roads are integral to transferring water across long distances to reach rural areas and others with no access to safe drinking water. About 20 percent of land surface across the globe is within one kilometer of a road. These are generally the most populous areas with easy access to water sources. Often, roads can alter the ebb and flow of water through corrosion and sedimentation. Harvesting this water and relocating it is better for the environment and for those who require access to potable water sources.

Benefits of Road Water Harvesting

In countries stricken with poverty, people typically forget to maintain infrastructures, such as failing bridges, dilapidated buildings and damaged roadways, or they are low on the list of priorities. In addition, the damage makes it difficult to access water sources. Roads for Water manages water with infrastructure which leads to three ways that Roads for Water benefits infrastructure:

  1. Reduced costs associated with maintaining roadways. Building resilient roadways that are long-lasting with minimal maintenance is beneficial because it is more cost-efficient. The program also invests time and effort into maintaining roads in order to make road water harvesting more sustainable.
  2. Less destruction to landscape and rural farmlands. People build roadways more efficiently and in more convenient locations without disrupting farmlands and vast landscapes. The roads coincide with access to towns and major landmarks in order to make water more accessible for larger groups of people. Harvesting does minimal damage to the landscape; whereas other methods, like natural erosion and sedimentation, are more damaging because they destroy larger areas of ground.
  3. Water that people harvest through the road is more productive and improves consumptive water usage. Road harvesting focuses efforts on gaining water through and under roadways. People build the roads in a manner that allows for easy accessibility for tools, which creates less road damage when strategies are already in place. People can use water for multiple purposes if they have more access to it. This expands from cleaning and drinking to hygiene and consumer products.

Countries that Roads for Water Has Impacted

In Malawi, there is a high potential for harvesting water from road networks. However, the country has not yet fully established these networks due to weather conditions and conflict. The government has fortunately acknowledged the need for this program and has initiated the Integrated Catchment Management as a way to address water resource management issues. With efforts from the government, Malawi has a much higher chance of accomplishing its water harvesting goals across the country.

In addition, Nepal has strict guidelines for who can participate in its road maintenance groups. The District Road Core Network (DRCN) is the group of main rural roads that provide access to Village Development Committees (VDCs), as well as being responsible for the sustainability and maintenance of the country’s District Development Committee (DDC). There is a vast amount of land available for road building and the Road Maintenance Groups (RMGs) are efficient teams that effectively carry out the process and routine maintenance of the DRCN, which includes making sure the roads are all-weather and stay open year-round. With the support of the Nepali government, RMGs can keep up with the roadway systems, making water more accessible to all areas of the country.

How to Help

Finally, agencies such as The Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, World Bank Group and others support Roads for Water. Contributions and fieldwork make up most of the models’ message. Find out more about how to become involved here.

Kaylee Seddio
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Kashmir
Many countries around the world do not have sufficient access to clean water and two of the most deprived counties are India and Pakistan. Both countries are seeing rapid population growth, but they also lack the proper infrastructure to provide their citizens with water. There is a long history of conflict between the two neighbors, and the heavily disputed Kashmir region has added to the conflict. The water crisis in Kashmir should be the focus, however.

Background on Pakistan

Pakistan is in eastern Asia, bordering Iran, Afghanistan and India, as well as sharing a small border with China. It is the sixth most populated country with around 207 million people. The country also borders the Arabian Sea to the south. It recently ranked 140 out of 180 countries in the quality of water and sanitation on the Environmental Performance Index. Regional conflict, arid land, inefficient sanitation and water conservation resources have contributed to Pakistan’s lack of clean water. In Pakistan, about 21 million people are without clean water.

Background on India

India has the second-largest population in the world at 1.3 billion people and it lives within an area smaller than the United States. Despite many improvements to water facility access, India still lacks the adequate resources necessary to provide its large citizenry with clean water. Rapid urbanization has caused sprawling urban areas, where the people who live on the outskirts have no access to water unless they build wells.

Close to 600 million people are facing acute water shortages, and 21 cities might run out of groundwater by 2020. Both India and Pakistan commit much of their water to agriculture. India is a grain-producing country, which requires large amounts of water. India and Pakistan both have very low groundwater levels due to using it for farming.

The Indus Treaty

In the 1960s, the two neighbors agreed on a treaty to allocate the water that flows through the Kashmir region. The World Bank brokered the treaty, called the Indus Treaty, in an attempt to properly divert the water that flows into India and Pakistan throughout the disputed area.

Both sides have threatened to leave the treaty. Indus is the name of one of the longest rivers in Asia and its tributaries provide many countries with water. As the conflict over the Kashmir region has risen, the Indian government has threatened to divert one of the rivers by building dams and ultimately reducing the amount of water that flows to Pakistan.

India is also looking to build a dam in the Rari River. Since the creation of the treaty, the Rari River has been one of the main sources of water for Pakistan coming from the Kashmir region.

The Feud Over Kashmir

In 1834, the Sikh Empire annexed Kashmir, but after the war with Britain, the British gained control in 1846. Kashmir ultimately became part of Britain’s Indian colony, with the name Jammu and Kashmir.

Britain relinquished control of India in 1947, after which the Pakistani and Indian nations emerged. Pakistan controls the northern part of Kashmir, while the more southern Jammu and Kashmir are under Indian control. At the time of the British withdrawal, the ruler of Kashmir wished to stay neutral and maintain control over the region.

Kashmir has undergone long disputes. It stands at the northernmost point in India, and to this day, looks to obtain as much autonomy as it can from the Indian government. Both Indian and Pakistan lay claim to the Kashmir region and the region has been the basis of two of the wars between the neighboring countries. In fact, one of the wars was the first war between the two nuclear-armed nations.

As a way to maintain control over the region, the Indian government recently revoked the special rights afforded to the Muslim population in the Kashmir region and took many steps to diminish dissent. These steps included sending troops, enforcing a curfew, shutting down telecommunications like text messaging and internet services and arresting people the government deemed political prisoners.

Many in the region look to obtain independence or even to succeed in Pakistan since their Muslim majority sees Pakistan as a more welcome nation to be a part of. Pakistan and India have fought over the divided region to maintain control, but just recently, India looked to use the region as a weapon against its neighbor. After a suicide attack in February 2019 on Indian soldiers, which the Indian government blamed on Pakistani backed militants, relations between the countries have worsened with both sides threatening the other, and the conducting of airstrikes against Pakistan.

The Conclusion

The disputed Kashmir region will only increase in importance as both India and Pakistan face growing populations and decreasing groundwater levels. India and Pakistan are two of the most water-scarce countries in the world, so the water coming from the Indus River system is essential. The water crisis in Kashmir is affecting both countries, and both countries are working to improve access to clean water. There are also many organizations making it their mission to provide people with clean water.

UNICEF has promoted WASH programs to provide communities with education and resources on the importance of hygiene. Groups like charity: water has dedicated itself to providing clean water to countries in need, including Pakistan and India. It does this by building wells, improving sanitation to ensure clean water remains clean and other techniques to obtain and maintain clean water. With better techniques, the water crisis in Kashmir should diminish significantly. Also, the use of water as a political tool would no longer be a viable option.

– Jared Hynes
Photo: Flickr

lack access to clean water
About 2.1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean running water and sanitation facilities. Another 2.3 billion people do not have the luxury of accessing toilets. Clean water is important because it is directly linked to “better health, reductions in parasitic infections, increased child growth and lower morbidity and mortality.” Here are 10 countries that lack access to clean water.

10 Countries That Lack Access to Clean Water

  1. Afghanistan: With only 22 percent of its population having access to clean water, Afghanistan has one of the lowest rates of clean water access in the world. About 87 percent of the nation’s water is contaminated.
  2. Cambodia: Since the majority of the population is dependent on catching and storing rainwater, it leaves an estimated 84 percent of the population with no access to water. This leaves 5 percent of the population dependent on water deliveries.
  3. Congo: 75 percent of the country’s 51 million people do not have access to clean water. About 21 percent of people in rural areas can not reach pure water, which is double the level it was five years prior.
  4. Pakistan: Pakistan is known for having the biggest gap between the rich and poor when it comes to basic hygiene. This leaves 22 million people, or 64 percent of the nation, with no access to clean water.
  5. Uganda: About 40 percent of the population has to travel more than 30 minutes to reach drinkable water. A little over 61.1 percent of the 42.3 million population has access to safe drinking water.
  6. Ethiopia: The high mortality rate in Ethiopia is linked to the quality of water in the country. Due to poor water management and water-intensive farming, 60.9 percent of people have no access to water.
  7. Somalia: Water delivery systems have been destroyed due to post-war problems. This has left 60 percent of the population with no basic access to water and 11.7 percent of people consuming untreated surface water.
  8. Nigeria: Even though Nigeria is one of the fastest-improving countries in regards to water sanitation, 15 percent of its residents have no access to this vital resource.
  9. Chad: Chad has a square mileage of 800,000, which is three times the size of California. But only 15,000 square miles of the country has water. This leaves 33 percent of the nation’s population with the struggle of accessing clean running water.
  10. Syria: The Syrian conflict is hindering humanitarian aid agencies from delivering water and supplies. As of right now, only 10 percent of people lack access to water.

NGOs Helping On The Ground

While these populations of people are suffering due to their lack of access to safe, clean, drinkable water, there are many foundations and NGOs helping to fight this issue.

Water.org is an NGO focused on helping people find a way to be able to attain safe clean drinking water. The organization offers small and affordable loans called WaterCredit to help families obtain sanitized water. Water.org has helped more than 223,000 Ethiopians with improved water, sanitation and hygiene services. WaterCredit has also reached 40,000 people, providing them with clean water for five years.

UNICEF along with the Ministries of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Public Health and Education, as well as local and global partners have come together to resolve the water crisis in Afghanistan. The plan is to end open defecation by 2025 by using their Community-Led Total Sanitation approach. This approach is a combination of “shock, shame, disgust and pride” to motivate people to build their own toilets. In 2017, the partnership has helped 300,000 Afghans reach clean and safe water. This initiative has also helped girls stay in school by installing washrooms so that they can manage their periods and feminine hygiene needs in school instead of staying home.

– Isabella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Water Relief in Haiti

Political corruption and unstable governments can be a huge problem for organizations trying to bring aid to a developing country. On top of the already difficult logistics, corrupt governments can heap on restrictions, red tape and, at times, cause violence. The 2008 Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranked Haiti at number four of the most corrupt nations in the world. This same Index also ranked Haiti as the most corrupt country in the Caribbean region in a 2013 study. This political corruption was the main difficulty faced by Brian Merriam and his Rotary Club Chapter when they tried to aid efforts for water relief in Haiti in 2014.

The Rotary Club’s Contribution

For more than 110 years, Rotary Club International and its 1.2 million members have prided themselves in bringing aid to impoverished countries around the globe. With more than 35,000 chapters, Rotary Club is able to make a lasting worldwide change. Brian Merriam, a third-generation member of Rotary Club International, discussed his initial motivation and the challenges involved in helping Haiti.

Merriam took to heart something that his father always said, “find the greatest problems in your community and find a way to solve them.” It was this motto that led him to first visit Haiti in 1999 with the Episcopalian organization, Food For The Poor. What Merriam saw shocked him, “I traveled the world when I was fifteen,” said Merriam “I’ve seen poverty but never the amount of Haiti.” With 59 percent of the country surviving on less than $2 a day, Haiti it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

A Lack of Clean Drinking Water

After a few more visits to the country, Merriam knew something had to be done. Getting everyone from his Rotary Chapter to help was the easy part. Having been to Haiti several times Merriam knew the problems facing the nation and how to help. “Haiti isn’t lacking water,” said Merriam, “it’s lacking clean drinking water.” More than 90 percent of the country has been deforested, leading to poor soil quality. This combined with the country’s predominantly porous limestone bedrock makes the water that comes up from the earth unfiltered and unhealthy to drink.

The condition of the water supply is made only worse by the nation’s poverty. People wash themselves and their clothes in Haiti’s waterways, further contaminating the water. With more than two-thirds of the population unemployed, many families can’t afford bottled water. They are forced to drink from these polluted bodies of water instead. With this in mind, the Rotary Club Schenectady Chapter brought filtration systems to the community of Matogou in 2014 in order to boost water relief in Haiti.

Political Instability

Along with the many natural factors, an increase in political protests and the proceeding violence have further crippled the country’s ability to distribute aid. This has made it more difficult for organizations to facilitate water relief in Haiti. Large mobs, vandalism and blocked roads make it harder to get basic goods out to Haiti’s most needy.

The tumultuous protests are a reaction by the Haitian people to both the corruption of President Jovenel Moise’s and the ineptitude of the Haitian parliament. According to Haiti’s senate, President Moise and his predecessor, Michel Martelly, embezzled as much as $2 billion. That money was supposed to go to Haiti’s poor to improve their infrastructure, health and education systems. Adding to the instability, the Haitian parliament failed to ratify a government or appoint a new Prime Minister after the ousting of their last one, Jean-Henry Ceant.

Merriam knows firsthand the difficulties this kind of political instability can cause. The largest problem for the Rotary Club was not financial, nor was it logistical. Getting the water filtration systems to the intended people intact was the real difficulty. Merriam recalls having to sneak the filtration systems past customs, “We have to smuggle them into the country. Not cause they’re illegal but because I’ll get extorted at the airport if they know I have them.” After getting the filtration systems past customs, Rotary Club was ready to bring them into the communities that desperately needed water relief in Haiti.

One Success Story

The Rotary Club Schenectady Chapter has changed lives for the better by increasing water relief in Haiti. The water filtration systems Rotary installed have a shelf life of 10 years and can filter out 99.99 percent of bacteria from 1,000,000 gallons of water. Each system can provide clean water to 40 people per day. The organization shows communities how to maintain and clean the filtration systems. Rotary club exceeded its goal in providing 24-hour clean water to Matogou.

It is Merriam’s belief that people born into good fortune have to social obligation to help those less fortunate than themselves. “We are on this one globe and if we don’t make it better, we’ve squandered it,” said Merriam. It is this attitude that has led him to fight for the people of Haiti for 20 years. His actions through the Rotary Club have provided much-needed water relief in Haiti.

– Henry Burkert
Photo: Wikimedia