Water Quality in Ukraine
Water in Ukraine is scarce and highly contaminated. The country’s water system is degradable and the tap water should not be consumed by anyone in the southern region of the country.

Overall, water quality in Ukraine has drastically deteriorated in the last decade. Water resources in the country are unevenly distributed and have resulted in high costs for water security. Ukraine’s availability of water has decreased while water contamination has increased due to trace metals and emerging pollutants.

Despite Efforts, Treatment Systems are Imperfect

The water treatment methods for drinking water can only provide partially safe drinking water. The country is concerned that large amounts of chlorine in water treatment processes cause the formation of mutagenic and carcinogenic chlorine organics. These organics have a negative impact on drinking water security and neurogenic health effects. The Ukraine government has recently developed and implemented a national and regulatory framework for strict sanitary measures. Such measures include a law on drinking water standards and increased public awareness on the changing culture of water use in the country.

Water quality in Ukraine is affected by the lack of pipe systems in the southern region of Ukraine and the Crimea. The poor state of water pipelines are a major concern for the country and has led to wasted drinking water and a reduced quality of tap water.

The pressures on water resources in Ukraine are extensive. Eight out of ten southern oblasts, as well as the entire Crimean Republic, do not receive enough water. Poorly treated wastewater is discharged in 136 cities and towns in over 50 urban villages each day. More than 1,000 communities have had to be supplied with delivered water.

Water quality in Ukraine can improve by minimizing contamination of surface and underground water sources. Through improving water treatment, renewing water and sewage pipelines, and funding to implement the country’s draft program that was proposed in 1995,  improvements to water quality in the Ukraine look hopeful.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

The drinking water in Canada is generally of excellent quality. The risks to the drinking water supply are minimal. However, the minerals, silt, vegetation, fertilizers and agricultural run-off in the water may pose some health risks.

Canada has a multi-barrier approach to safe drinking water which serves as a guideline for every drinking water system and is used to maintain water quality.

The federal government plays the most important role in scientific research monitoring and leadership on the development of guidelines for water quality in Canada. Seventy-five percent of Canadians are serviced by municipal sewer systems and the remaining 25 percent by septic disposal systems. Despite the best efforts of suppliers, municipal water supplies can sometimes become contaminated and in these cases, precautionary measures such as boiling water before consumption is advised.

Municipal water waste discharges were one of the largest sources of pollution to the water quality in Canada in 2006 and generated 84 percent of the water effluents reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory.

The water quality in Canada earns an ‘A’ grade for water quality and ranks 4th out of 17 peer OECD countries. Water quality in Canada is mostly affected by industrial effluent, agricultural runoff and municipal sewage pollution.

Sewage treatment continues to improve as more municipalities upgrade their treatment facilities and there has been an increase in the frequency and extent to which drinking water guidelines for nitrate have been exceeded in groundwater across the country.

Data collected from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s water quality index reports that from 2007 to 2009, the freshwater quality was rated marginally fair at 41 percent of the water stations, good at 33 percent of the stations and excellent at 10 percent of the stations, with only 16 percent rated poor.

The quality of water in Canada is the best it has ever been and is much better today than it was 30 years ago.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Global Water Crisi
The global water crisis not only hurts women around the world but also hurts economies. Water scarcity affects 2.8 billion people around the world for at least one month each year, and more than 1.2 billion people cannot access clean drinking water.

Matt Damon, who co-founded the charity Water.org, told CNN that he has hope that President Trump could help support the fight against the global water crisis. “For every dollar you invest in this sector, you get back four,” Damon said.

Gary White, Damon’s partner in Water.org, said that many women and girls around the world are unable to obtain an education because they must prioritize carrying water for the survival of their families. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition pointed out that women who focus on education find stable jobs and build economies and markets, which not only benefits them but lifts the world economy as a whole. According to the U.N., women spend about six hours a day in Africa carrying water. Women also do 90% of the work of carrying water in Africa.

Water.org gives microloans called WaterCredit to people in developing countries allowing them to invest in water solutions. Water.org in partnership with Stella Artois, a Belgian beer company, started a campaign called “Buy a Lady a Drink.” The campaign focuses on women who have to carry the water instead of going to school. For this campaign, Stella Artois sells chalices and $6.25 from each one sold goes to Water.org.

White said that the global water crisis is worth the attention because the solution is within reach, easy to understand, and could have widespread benefits that will not only lift millions out of poverty, but create opportunities for businesses all over the developed world as well.

Solving the global water crisis not only improves the health of people in developing nations, but it also improves the global economy.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Improving Water Quality in Kenya
The water quality in Kenya is affected by factors like climate change, extended periods of drought and catchment degradation. Clean water in Kenya is not only scarce, but it is also not distributed fairly. Those who can pay for clean water in Kenya can much more quickly get access to it than Kenya’s poor. According to the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), only 63% of the population has access to clean water and a mere 30% has access to sanitation facilities.

Effects and Improvement of Poor Water Quality in Kenya

Many people get their water from the nearest water hole and their toilet is a hole in the back of their home. These water holes are contaminated with raw sewage, as well as industrial wastes, parasites, bacteria and diseases. Without access to clean water and sanitation, more than 20,000 people die annually from preventable diarrheal diseases and water-borne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

Organizations like Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) are working with local water and sewage companies to improve the water quality and sanitation for Kenya’s poor. In Dandora, a poor community in Nairobi, Kenya, WSUP has laid 23 kilometers of new pipeline to improve water quality in Kenya. Their efforts are providing access to clean water to more than 52,000 people. Prior to this project, as much as 90% of the water intended for the community was illegally diverted or lost because of leaks. People had to buy water from privately-owned boreholes that were often several kilometers away.

Legal and metered water sources have reduced water costs, making it affordable for people in low-income communities. More importantly, access to clean water and toilets has improved. John Chege, a field sociologist with Nairobi City Water and Sewage Company (NCWSC), reports a dramatic reduction in the number of people requesting medicine and treatment for illnesses. Chege states, “From my observations, I think people’s health is improving.”

There is hope that the new pipeline will extend to other low-income communities, improving water quality in Kenya for all people.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr

The unpredictable weather conditions in central Kenya create challenges for many small farmers. The country is categorized as a water-scarce nation, as most of its landmass is considered arid or semi-arid. To compensate, growers traditionally water their crops with cans or buckets, creating inefficient and uneven irrigation. This system resulted in irregular and costly harvests — until scientists from Kenya’s Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) stepped in to advance water conservation in Kenya.

Daniel Maitethia and a team of scientists from MUST discovered a solution: a “sensor-based automatic irrigation system” app. Launched last year at MUST’s own test farm, the system uses sensors strategically placed throughout fields. Drip lines are installed into subdivided portions and water is automatically channeled. When the soil is dry, the system then uses solar panels to open a water tank. The sensors then alert the system when enough water has been supplied, and then the irrigation shuts off — saving valuable water.

Water Conservation via an App

The secret to the system’s success lies in the user interface of the app. Farmers can operate the system remotely through text messages to the app. Some of the controls available at the push of a button consist of turning on water pumps, opening specified water valves, closing open valves and re-channeling irrigation.

There’s little doubt about the wide-reaching benefits of MUST’s system, especially regarding water conservation in Kenya. Additionally, labor costs can also be reduced. On-site farm attendants are no longer needed to oversee and implement irrigation daily. Any alerts in the system are sent to the farmer via text.

Cost Savings and Maintenance

Farmers like John Njeru are already realizing the benefits. He used to hire other farmers to help water his land, but with the system in place, he no longer needs the extra hands. He reports that his labor costs are reduced by 20,000 Kenyan shillings or $192 per month. Further, Njeru is seeing less food loss: “I used to lose up to 70% of my produce as a result of dry weather and inefficient irrigation, compared to only 10% now.”

Maitethia understands the need for potential troubleshooting and technical support. He advised that if there is a “glitch” in the system, the farmer will receive a text explaining the problem. He promised support, saying “a technician employed by the university will then help the farmer remotely with instructions, or physically come to the farm if needed.”

Maitethia remains hopeful for future expansion. He advised that the system received one million Kenyan shillings ($9,600) by the Water Services Trust Fund in November 2016 as the best innovation in the country in water resource management. He hopes that the award, coupled with other potential partnerships, will increase the availability of this system to benefit water conservation in Kenya.

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Ethiopia
Erratic rainfall negatively affects the water quality in Ethiopia and can cause famine and food shortage. In addition, war diverts resources that could be used for clean water projects.

Essential for survival, water is something most people can access very easily. The number of people in Ethiopia with access to clean water has doubled, from 29 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2015. Yet 41 percent of the population lacks adequate access to safe water.

Ethiopia has endured four severe droughts since 1974 and is currently facing the worst drought it has seen in 50 years. The water crisis can be attributed not only to severe drought but also to lack of government funding and infrastructure.

Best-selling author and YouTuber John Green went to Ethiopia with Bill Gates. “When I asked people about their greatest needs, almost all of them–from the Women’s Health Army volunteers to children–cited clean water first.”

Women spend hours every day carrying 50-pound cans filled with clean water for their families. Because of the distance that many women must travel to get clean water, families often utilize any water they have access to, regardless of its safety.

One method of improving water quality in Ethiopia is to implement rainwater harvesting techniques. Rainwater harvesting initiatives have helped those facing drought in India, China and Mexico and could be the answer to improving water quality in Ethiopia on a widespread basis. Rainwater harvesting helps people provide themselves with clean water from a reliable source that can last through even the driest seasons.

When asked about rainwater harvesting by the BBC, Dennis Garrity of the World Agroforestry Centre said, “Ethiopia, often regarded as a dry country, could collect enough for half a billion people…The time has come to realize the great potential for greatly enhancing drinking water supplies…by harvesting more of the rain when and where it falls.”

In a study assessing the impact of rainwater harvesting systems in the Abreha Weatsbeha watershed, the community utilized sustainable land management methods such as integrated soil and water conservation practices. Farmers learned to use conservation structures and vegetation in the upper part of watersheds to contribute to the amount of groundwater discharged in the lower part of the catchment.

The groundwater table is now only three meters beneath the surface, even in the driest season (it was previously 15 meters underground). Farmers now have their own shallow irrigation wells and the community has 388 hand-dug wells. The people in Abreha Weatsbeha call these groundwater ponds their “water bank.” Thanks to the “water banks” rainwater harvesting systems create, quality of life and water in Ethiopia can greatly improve.

Mary Barringer

Water Quality in Vietnam
Vietnam’s 3,260 km coastline and extensive river networks have given the country an economic and industrial advantage. However, the exploitation and resulting pollution of the rivers has severely limited people’s access to clean drinking water. Despite efforts taken to improve water quality in Vietnam and limit the unmindful disposal of factory waste, polluted water still causes up to 80 percent of illnesses nationwide.

Vietnam has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in Southeast Asia, and as many as 44 percent of Vietnamese children fall ill with whipworms, hookworms or roundworms. Other common water-borne illnesses in Vietnam include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and Typhoid Fever, all of which are most commonly spread by fecal contamination of drinking water.

The pollution most profoundly impacts those living in central and southern Vietnam, where the majority of waterways are used for farming and power. Although water quality in Vietnam‘s upstream rivers such as the Red River remains acceptable, those living downstream or in urban areas are at greater risk of contracting water-borne illnesses.

According to the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation, water samples from Binh Chanh, Cu Chi and District 12 contain unsafe levels of ammonia and manganese. Arsenic contamination in water has also been a threat to the entire nation.

Untreated industrial waste is the primary cause of poor water quality in Vietnam, as fifty industrial zones discharge 105 million liters of largely untreated wastewater into the Saigon every day. International water resource organizations recommend limiting river flow exploitation to 30 percent, but, according to a report in the Voice of Vietnam online journal, the Ninh Thuan province exploits as much as 80 percent. This has degraded the basins in the Red River, the Thai Binh River and the Dong Nai River.

Hydropower plants have been built on all 13 big river networks, as well as on small rivers. The power plants have cut the river networks into artificial water reservoirs and have upset the river’s water storage. This not only devastates the forests and water life, but it makes people living downstream from these areas particularly vulnerable to pollution from farming pesticides, fertilizer, factory runoff, fish farms and wastewater.

Vietnam is developing its hydropower infrastructure to keep up with its increasing demand for energy. While the existing administrative and legal framework for pollution control is substantial, the problem, according to Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh, a professor at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, is law enforcement. “We need to have strong punishments,” Oanh says, especially with larger power plants. He also says that people need to be aware of the issue so that they do not contribute to the pollution themselves.

Some of the greatest problems regarding pollution control are low fines, vague criteria for identifying polluters, low monitoring capacity, little willingness to enforce regulations and inadequate funding. Legislation passed in the last decade, however, has made provisions for harsher sanctions against polluters, such as the 2005 revised Law on Environmental Protection.

Funding for pollution control has also increased over the last ten years on both the national and provincial levels. For example, the HCMC Waste Recycling Fund targets waste management firms, while the Vietnam Environmental Protection Fund targets pollution control in urban areas, craft villages and hospitals.

Flexible funding, effective audits and knowledge as to who polluters are should reduce the waste going into Vietnamese rivers. The benefits of these changes will protect future generations from serious illnesses, and ultimately prepare the country for more sustainable economic development.

Liliana Rehorn

Photo: Flickr

Watershed Management
To expand the Water and Development Alliance, Coca-Cola and USAID are donating a combined investment of $22 million to provide safe water and sanitation to communities throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Coca-Cola and USAID, through WADA, act in 22 countries worldwide including 16 countries in Africa.

The Water and Development Alliance hosts volunteers in the local communities to participate in watershed management. Keeping the locals involved in the process of establishing improved attitudes and behaviors promotes the importance of maintaining positive health benefits, such as better hygiene and sanitation. This also advocates for smart water usage, thus preventing wastefulness and ultimately protecting the environment while providing economic benefits.

The Global Environment and Technology Foundation encourages the development of new projects and continued progress as the partnership manager. GETF is a non-profit from Washington, D.C. that aims to build partnerships, such as the one between Coca-Cola and USAID, to aid humanity. The three core issues at the center of GETF’s mission are safe water and sanitation, clean energy and climate change reversal, as well as overall sustainability for communities around the world.

In places like Chimoio, Mozambique, the TextAfrica water treatment plant received the funding for restoration and expansion as the facility now benefits 25,000 people in the surrounding area. Partnerships between public and private entities can do a lot of good with adequate funding and oversight to fix problems anywhere in the world. Successful sanitation and hygiene education campaigns are spreading to over one million people across West Java, Indonesia through another WADA-supported project.

The partnership is not limited to Coca-Cola, USAID and GETF. A local non-profit in Kano State, Nigeria called Women Farmer’s Advancement Network helped implement eased water and sanitation access directly in their communities. Also, in Tarija, Bolivia, stakeholder forum PROAGUA raised support for improved water resources and watershed management to the benefit of 150,000 living within the large basin area.

It is important to remember that joining for a common purpose can aid in the fight against poverty, hunger and illness. GETF works to ensure that more successful partnerships such as this may form and make a difference in the lives of real people everywhere. Coca-Cola and USAID continue to strengthen their bond and find new innovative ways to bring basic needs to those struggling to maintain their way of life.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Papua New Guinea
According to a 2016 report from WaterAid, an international organization that works to improve water quality, sanitation and hygiene to the most vulnerable populations, Papua New Guinea is the worst country in the world in terms of household water access. There are 4.5 million individuals, 60% of the population in Papua New Guinea who lack access to clean water. As a result of the water crisis in Papua New Guinea, 800 children die every year from diarrhea.

In the capital city, Port Moresby, about half of the population live in communities located on precipitous inclines prone to flooding. Many of these areas are outside the perimeter of utility services and far from water mains or sewage pipelines.

WaterAid suggests the vital water source connections will not be constructed for many years. The organization also notes that extreme weather along with rising sea levels contributes to an already precarious water crisis in Papua New Guinea.

Prohibitive costs, The Rakyat Post reports, are a major source of concern with respect to water quality. Poor residents in Port Moresby pay 54% of their daily wages to buy water (about 50 liters) from delivery services. By comparison, an individual living in the U.K. can expect to pay 0.1% of their daily earnings for the same amount of water from an official piped supply.

Henry Northover, head of policy for WaterAid told The Guardian that the global water difficulty was not always an issue of limited supply but in many instances a distributional problem. He added that with “clear and coherent” government policies and international intervention the crisis will be remedied.

Overcoming the crisis of water quality worldwide has been and continues to be challenging. Since 1990 advancements have been achieved, as 2.6 billion people now have access to clean water. With major improvements seen in Cambodia, followed by Mali, Laos and Ethiopia.

According to Northover ending the water crisis in Papua New Guinea and worldwide in general and thus availing all individuals worldwide access to clean water is an achievable goal, but he underscored the importance of a “clear, coherent strategy” by governments and an emphasis on water access to take global precedence.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr