Facts About Sanitation in Croatia
The Republic of Croatia is a country in Southeast Europe. After declaring independence from Yugoslavia, Croatia went through a period of bitter conflict. Under U.N. supervision, Croatia entered NATO in April 2009 and the E.U. in July 2013. Situated next to the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Croatia has abundant but unevenly distributed sources of water. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Croatia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Croatia

  1. Currently, 99.6 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved drinking water. The majority of the Croatians have access to public water infrastructure. The Croatian Ministry of Health monitors the country’s water infrastructure.
  2. Some Croatian islands can procure their own water supply. Croatia has over 1,000 islands as part of its territory. Croatian islanders sometimes procure their own water by building private wells, harvesting rainwater and water slimming. Some islands also have their own water infrastructure such as desalination plants or water pumping stations near a water source.
  3. The World Bank aided in improving sanitation in Croatia. In 2018, the World Bank stated that the six-year-long project, which the World Bank funded, improved sanitation in Croatia. After the conclusion of its $87.5 million project, the World Bank stated that the country eradicated the practice of discharging untreated sewage into the ocean.
  4. Coastal water contamination is an issue that needs attention. People know Croatia for its beautiful beaches. This contributes to Croatia’s booming tourism industry, which constituted about 20 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016. This makes it especially important for Croatia to maintain the swimming water quality of its coasts. Recognizing this importance the Croatian government requested project support from the World Bank. The project, which lasted from 2009 to 2015, strengthened water supply and sanitation services across 23 municipalities. The World Bank reports that this project benefited over 230,000 people.
  5. The European Union’s Cohesion Fund is further supporting the modernization of sanitation in Croatia. On March 1, 2020, the E.U. approved the investment of more than 128 million Euros (143,143,808 USD) from the Cohesion Fund to improve sanitation in Croatia. The supported project aims to give access to high-quality drinking water and wastewater treatment to more than 29,000 people.
  6. There are concerns over possible pharmaceutical pollution in the Sava River. Located 15 kilometers upstream from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, there are concerns over possible contamination of the city’s water source. Nikolina Udikovic Kolic, a microbiologist who raised this concern, reported that bacteria in the Sava River are possibly developing antimicrobial resistance. This is problematic since this means that there is a chance that a superbug could develop from this river which can resist anti-bacterial chemicals. Kolic suggested that a factory that Pliva owns, which is Croatia’s biggest drugmaker, might be responsible for polluting the waterways.
  7. Around 97 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved sanitation facilities. The percentage of people without basic sanitary facilities decreased since 2012. Compared to 2012, when 1.9 percent of the population lacked access to basic sanitary facilities, the conditions improved to only 1.1 percent of the population in 2018.
  8. While access to flush toilets in rural areas is nearly universal, people have limited access to sewerage services. A 2018 study found that 94 percent of rural areas had access to flush toilets. Nearly 93 percent of flush toilet users had on-site fecal sludge containment facilities. However, among the interviewed households, only 12 percent of them had access to sewerage services.
  9. People in the poorest wealth quintile are the ones who lack access to piped water access and flush toilets. The same 2018 study stated that 25 percent of the rural Croatian population relies on self-supplied water and sanitation facilities. The main reason these houses were not connected to the public system was that these houses’ were physically not able to connect to the network.
  10. Climate change poses multiple threats to sanitation in Croatia. A 2012 study that the E.U. and other organizations conducted studied the impact that climate change could bring to Croatia. Experts suggest that the potential decrease in precipitation can diminish groundwater levels, which will affect the supply of drinking water in Croatia.

These facts about sanitation in Croatia show that it maintains adequate service quality and access to service. The wide availability of sanitation facilities and water facilities is making life better for many Croatians. However, for the residents of rural communities in Croatia, the need for improvement is apparent. The Croatian government and many other international organizations are addressing this need. Organizations such as the World Bank are working with the Croatian government to improve sanitation in Croatia. With all the dangers that climate change poses, the need for sustainable development is also paramount. With all this assistance, better sanitary conditions are coming for the people of Croatia.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Kuwait
Kuwait, or the State of Kuwait, is a country between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. After obtaining its independence from Britain in 1961, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq in Aug. 1990. In Feb. 1991, a U.S.-led U.N. coalition liberated Kuwait in four days. After their liberation from Iraq, Kuwait’s many tribal groups staged protests demanding their political rights. The oppositionists, mainly composed of Sunni Islamists, tribal populists and liberals, won nearly half of the seats in the national assembly in the 2016 election. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Kuwait.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Kuwait

  1. There are no permanent rivers or lakes in Kuwait. While there aren’t any permanent water sources in Kuwait, there are Wadis, also known as desert basins. These basins fill with water during winter rains, which occur from Dec. to March. However the low amount of rainfall, which is about 121mm per year, and the high evaporation rate of water in Kuwait’s climate make rainfall an unreliable source of water.
  2. In 2015, Kuwait was on the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) list of countries with the highest water risk by 2040. Countries such as Bahrain, Palestine, Qatar, UAE, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Lebanon were on the same list. The WRI pointed to the Middle-East’s already limited water supply and climate change as criteria for their country rankings.
  3. In Kuwait, 99 percent of people have access to improved drinking water. Kuwait also has a well-developed water infrastructure. However, the country’s rapidly growing population since 2000 is putting a toll on Kuwait’s water supply. Even as early as 1946, Kuwait was importing 80,000 gallons of fresh water per day.
  4. Kuwait’s over-reliance on groundwater led to its reliance on desalinization for drinking water. Even during the early 20th century, the shallow wells that collected rainwater were drying out. According to the 2019 U.N. report, these desalination plants produce around 93 percent of Kuwait’s drinking water.
  5. Desalination is expensive. While some might think that desalination plants are the answer to Kuwait’s water supply problem, the cost of operating desalination plants can’t be ignored. Per cubic meter, desalinated water can cost up to $1.04. Adding on to this the price of energy, which accounts for three-fourths of the cost, and transportation, it is easy to see how expensive desalination is.
  6. In 2017 and 2018, the WHO recognized the excellent water quality in Kuwait. This recognition is a testament to the Kuwait government’s commitment to water quality in its country. However, the Director of Water Resources Development Center emphasized the importance of landlords, who are responsible for the quality of water for their buildings, in keeping water storage tanks free of bacterial infection.
  7. The Water Resources Development Center (WRDC) uses real-time GIS (Geographic Information System) to monitor water quality and sanitation in Kuwait. While desalination plants produce clean water, multiple factors such as damaged water pipes or an aging water infrastructure can lead to water contamination. The GIS allows WRDC to collect and process water data from numerous sensors throughout Kuwait in real-time.
  8. The CIA estimated in 2015 that 100 percent of the Kuwait population has access to improved sanitation facilities. This reflects the Kuwait government’s commitment to public health and sanitation. In 2013, for example, Kuwait invested $5.28 billion in its water sector. Water treatment plants received the highest investment of $3.4 billion.
  9. Kuwait is expanding its sewage treatment facilities. In 2018, a German-Kuwait consortium closed a $1.6 billion contract to expand Kuwait’s Umm Al Hayman (UAH) sewage treatment plant. When the facility’s expansion finishes, experts estimate that the new plant will process 700,000 cubic meters of sewage per day, compared to the original capacity of 500,000 cubic meters.
  10. Kuwait is working on more efficient usage of water. In 2011, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) stated that Kuwait had the highest water consumption in the world. UNDP’s 2019 report indicates that efficient usage of water in Kuwait rose from zero percent in 2012 to 15.1 percent in 2016. MOEW (Ministry of Electricity and Water) achieved this by conducting community awareness-raising activities or building water tanks and wells to ensure long-term water conservation.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Kuwait highlight the success the nation has had in maintaining and providing sanitary water. However, Kuwait must now turn its attention toward securing stable sources of water. With the ever-looming threat of climate change, the UNDP recommends that Kuwait focus on sustainable development.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

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

Facts about Sanitation in NicaraguaAlthough Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, it is also one of the poorest nations in the region. Its mountainous location presents a challenge when considering the development of infrastructure necessary for a functioning water and sanitation system. Although access to resources has been a persistent challenge, the following 10 facts about sanitation in Nicaragua explain the country’s upward trajectory of living conditions and a patchwork of support.

10 Facts about Sanitation in Nicaragua

  1. Improved Sanitation Coverage. Access to improved sanitation in the past 30 years has increased significantly. In 1990, Nicaragua had 44 percent overall sanitation coverage. As of 2015, that number increased to 68 percent, according to data collected by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. Improved Drinking-water Source Coverage. Driven by the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (U.N.), Nicaragua has managed to increase access to drinking-water coverage from 73 percent to 87 percent of the population between 1990 to 2015.
  3. Urban vs. Rural Coverage. Like in many countries, access to sanitary services depends on location and economic status. This is even more apparent for the Nicaraguan population, which has a high coverage gap of 22 percent between rural and urban areas in basic sanitary services. Nevertheless, the gap has decreased somewhat over time. It is down from a 28 percent gap in 2000.
  4. Climate factors. Nicaragua is situated in what is called the “Dry Corridor” of Central America, leaving it exposed to heavy drought. To compound, the negative factors of “El niño” warming the surface temperatures has prolonged these dry spells and intensified storms. The consequence of these abnormalities makes it harder to travel for water pick-up, so families try to store water indoors. This leads to communicable diseases such as diarrhea. Luckily, humanitarian organizations have not been largely hindered by climate-related occurrences and continue to offer services such as new sanitation projects toward greater coverage.
  5. WaterAid and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Created by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WASH is a global effort to promote access to clean water, sanitation and hygienic practices to those in need. WaterAid is the biggest international nonprofit organization to exclusively promote WASH. It has intervened in principalities lacking water systems to connect 24,000 to clean water sources, 9,600 with toilets in their homes and 55,000 with hygiene education since 2011.
  6. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). IDB is a Latin American regional bank with similar development goals to that of the World Bank. In order to finance the expansion of water and sanitation services, IDB loaned 11 Nicaraguan cities a total of $72 million for better access to potable water and sanitation facilities. The project is expected to bring clean drinking water to 65,000 people and benefit 31,000 with new sewage networks. These improvements in technical assistance and equipment will benefit 375,000 residents of the capital city, Managua.
  7. Water For People. Another nonprofit that is promoting the WASH initiative is Water For People. It works with district governments to construct water pipes and ensure their sustainability. It also started a microfinance approach by partnering with local institutions to train on how to offer loans for sanitation purposes. To promote better hygiene in schools, the organization partners with schools to bring hygiene programming into teacher-led activities. It helps parent-teacher associations to monitor its effectiveness. Water For People has brought reliable water services in two districts for more than 26,000 residents.
  8. American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF). Founded in 1992, ANF is a nonprofit with the objective of reducing the ingestion of contaminated water and improving living conditions for Nicaraguans. Its projects have built sanitation facilities, wells, tap stands, rainwater collection and water filtration systems. In 2018 alone, ANF built 24 water wells, 711 sanitation facilities and more than 730 water taps, benefiting thousands of local residents.
  9. Faith-based nonprofits and agriculture. Since rural farmlands have poor access to water and sanitation, a number of churches in Nicaragua have partnered with local farmers to implement more sustainable farming practices that can protect the soil and water from pollution. Episcopal Relief & Development is a faith-based nonprofit. Its initiatives include crop diversity, increased food production, tree planting, constructing land ridges and ditches to reduce soil erosion and harvesting rainwater with micro-dams. The organization is currently working on a WASH project in Boaco to educate local communities on how to improve facilities and access to clean water.
  10. Esperança Projects. Esperança is a comprehensive nonprofit focused on health and education. Since 2001, it has been working in the northern region of Jinotega, a poor farming region of Nicaragua. Among its services, it provides clean water sources like wells to help limit water-borne diseases that disproportionately affect children, women and poor communities as they expose themselves to harm when traveling long distances for water. It also educates farmers on better agroecological techniques that leave water sources uncontaminated. Along with education, the organization provides families with seeds and livestock that help combat soil erosion and water pollution.

The Millennium Development Goals and network of nonprofits working in Nicaragua have proved paramount to the nation’s development of water systems, sanitation and agricultural sustainability. Basic access to clean water and sanitation services are directly dependent on proper hygiene education and resources that these organizations have increasingly provided. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nicaragua represent both the challenges and optimism for its people with a highlight on the notable progress that has been made with support from local and global communities.

Caleb Cummings
Photo: Flickr

Refugee Water Crisis
It’s no secret that there is a refugee crisis. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) stated that as of January 2019, 70.8 million people were refugees. To put that into perspective, one in every eight persons is either in transit, seeking asylum or living in camps. Roughly 2.6 million reside in managed camps, and this has created an all-new challenge: a refugee water crisis.

UNHCR estimates that more than half of the world’s refugee camps do not have enough water to fulfill the recommended 20 liters per person per day. There are a number of health risks associated with lack of water. To address them, WASH has intervened with several programs.

9 Facts About the Refugee Water Crisis

  1. Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a CDC program designed to improve access to healthy water, sanitation practices and hygiene. Ultimately, they strive for long-term solutions that will reduce poverty and improve the health and socio-economic development of everyone. WASH has impacted countless refugee camps and bettered the water crisis for many.
  2. Nyamithuthu Refugee Camp in Malawi received hygiene education training and successfully implemented the “improved bucket” initiative. Water does not have to be contaminated from its source to pose a threat to close-corridor inhabitants. Infection can spread from touching and storing water in improperly sanitized containers. To control any possible spread of disease, WASH provided 20-liter water buckets with constraining lids and water spouts to limit secondhand contamination.
  3. Though formal camps typically have better WASH services, they are not always up to ‘safely managed’ standards. These standards include the limitation of shared facilities and on-premise water sources with water sources less than 200 meters (656 feet) away. For example, there are 11 refugee camps managed in Uganda and only 43 percent of the inhabitants have access to water less than 200 meters away. The physical burden of carrying 80 liters of water from a well that far uses one-sixth of rationed calories for the day.
  4. The refugee water crisis inhibits proper sanitation practices, which is the first defense against communicable diseases. Roughly 30 percent of managed camps have inadequate waste disposal. Latrines shared between three or more families increase the risk for cholera outbreaks which are transmitted through fecal-oral contact. Several refugee camps in Bangladesh with sanitation facilities were three times less likely to have cholera outbreaks than camps without them.
  5. Undocumented refugees and migrants in transit have particular difficulty in finding basic water and sanitation services. They risk detection by authorities and tend to revert to unsafe and often dangerous methods to obtain water. For example, undocumented refugees on the French-Italian border use the river as a water source, toilet and place to cook in order to avoid detection by the Red Cross.
  6. Low-income and undocumented refugees are also more likely to live in informal urban areas with non-standardized infrastructures. On the US/Mexico border, Matamoros, Mexico, has an estimated 50,000 migrants settled in an unofficial refugee camp. Sources reveal there are less than 10 portable toilets, no running water and only two wooden showers located in the woods. Refugees use river water to bathe, cook, drink and clean laundry. The majority of the provisions (water and food parcels) are given through religious organizations, immigration activists and individual donors.
  7. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) addressed this humanitarian crisis through the Protocol for the Protection of Migrant Children. The Protocol ensures all necessary actions are taken to protect the rights of migrant children including their access to water.
  8. The true nature of the refugee water crisis is underrepresented, leaving water provisions inadequately rationed. WASH services are estimated based on census and survey data, excluding refugees in transit or informal settings. Undocumented refugees have no chance of consideration with this form of data collection, meaning that the crisis is more serious than the data indicates.
  9. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development details several plausible and lasting solutions to address and end the water crisis, specifically initiating and protecting policies in support of universal and inclusive water services. It also includes recommendations for governments and international agencies to strengthen water governance in correlation with migration.

Access to water is a human right protected under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The refugee water crisis threatens the lives of every migrant already running for their lives. Continued efforts from WASH, government agencies and humanitarian organizations are crucial to ending this crisis.

– Marissa Taylor
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

10 Facts about Sanitation in Chile
Running along the thin stretch of land between the Andes and South America’s Pacific coast, Chile has grown to be one of the region’s most prosperous countries. Challenges remain ahead, however, as a drying climate and expanding urban build-up threatens the nation’s ability to supply clean water for its growing population. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Chile.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Chile

  1. Chile just experienced its driest decade in history. Ecologists have labeled the past 10 years as a mega-drought, which has seen rainfall deficits as high as 70 percent in the Metropolitan region, leading the Chilean government to implement agricultural emergency zones in over one-third of the nation’s provinces. Furthermore, as temperatures rise and annual rates of precipitation continue to drop, many expect Chile to experience the greatest water stress of any in the western hemisphere over the next 40 years, placing much of the country’s population at risk of water insecurity.
  2. Everyone has access to basic sanitation. In 2016, Chile became the first Latin American country to achieve 100 percent basic sanitation coverage for its population, a major feat. Compounding this good news is that, as of 2017, roughly 77 percent of the Chilean population now has access to safely managed sanitation, a coverage rate that even surpasses that of Norway (76.32 percent). This comes only 40 years after the establishment of SENDOS, Chile’s first national sanitation and water company. Its involvement in the Chilean utility landscape got the ball rolling on increased public investments in sanitation coverage from 1977 to 1988.
  3. Chile’s water code grants free water rights to private corporations. Chile’s Water Code, which Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship enacted in 1981, empowers governmental authorities to grant permanent water titles to private owners, free of charge. As a consequence, private corporations own and operate 27 of Chile’s 28 water utilities, limiting the ability of the central government to regulate the management and distribution of the nation’s water supply.
  4. Santiago is growing, but so are its water needs. The Santiago Metropolitan Region, located in drought-prone central Chile, is currently home to 7 million people, a number that experts only expect to grow in the coming decades, placing further strain on the region’s diminishing water resources. In an effort to combat water scarcity in Chile’s capital, organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council have identified several priorities in managing the growing water deficit, including tackling inefficient agricultural practices and developing green infrastructure to meet Santiago’s needs.
  5. Glaciers provide Chile with much of its water, but they are in danger of disappearing. Chile currently possesses one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world, due in large part to runoff from glaciers located high up in the southern Andes mountain range. That supply is dwindling, however, as rates of precipitation decline and extensive mining of the copper deposits beneath many glacial areas continues. Researchers estimate that if Chile does not take steps to preserve the nation’s glaciers, by the end of the century, half of the total ice volume will have melted, depriving Chile of its major source of freshwater.
  6. Legal hurdles are compromising water access in central Chile. Experts expect water flows from the Maípo River Basin, which provides central Chile with 80 percent of its potable water and 90 percent of the water used for agriculture, to shrink by 40 percent over the next 50 years, spurred on by glacial retreat and an over-allocation of the river basin’s aquifers. Part of the issue lies in the Chilean Water Code’s division of the river basin into three distinct administrative sections, none of which are legally required to cooperate when it comes to handling water rights, leading many to seek legal reform as a potential remedy.
  7. In the north, water access is often a source of conflict. The Atacama Desert, a desert so dry that researchers use it to model conditions on other planets, covers Chile’s four northernmost provinces and hosts around 1.5 million people. As most of the groundwater available is fossil water, non-renewable water left over from the Atacama’s prehistoric past, there is concern that over-extraction of the region’s water supply will lead to its permanent depletion. This could lead to conflicts between the region’s mining companies and its indigenous inhabitants, who already must contend with the lowest household water usage rates in the country.
  8. Chilean companies are investing in “smart water” technology. As of 2017, 98.64 percent of the Chilean population possesses access to clean, household water, one of the highest coverage rates in Latin America. Despite these successes, over 30 percent of Chile’s potable water is still what experts consider “non-revenue water” or water that never manages to reach the consumer, thanks to a combination of theft, technical errors and leaks from broken and corroded pipes. To help combat this issue, many of Chile’s private water utilities have begun investing in “smart water” technology, which will allow companies to more efficiently monitor for potential leaks and breakdowns in the piping systems.
  9. Natural disasters are impeding access to water. The past two decades in Chile have seen a marked rise in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, such as in the case of 2017, when surging floods in the capital Santiago left millions of Chileans suddenly without access to clean drinking water. Many attribute Chile’s heightened susceptibility to floods in particular to the rapid expansion of urban development and the loss of green spaces within the country, which has resulted in increased surface water run-off in populated areas, leaving water nowhere to go during storms.
  10. Sanitation-related illnesses have declined sharply. Thanks to the country’s efforts in increasing sanitation coverage, only .2 percent of the mortality rate is now attributable to unsafe water and sanitation in Chile, the same percentage as that of the U.S. This also has helped to lower the overall child mortality rate to 7.2 per 1,000 live births, well under the Latin American average.

Although the country faces many unique hurdles to overcome in the days ahead, these 10 facts about sanitation in Chile demonstrate a nation that is consistently striving to meet the needs of its people, blazing a trail for other Latin American nations to follow in the process.

James Roark
Photo: Wikipedia

Sanitation in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa that lies between the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers with a population of 14.86 million. In the 20th century, Zimbabwe’s sanitation infrastructure was quite stable, but due to economic collapse resulting from the loss of public sector and donor investments in the early 2000s, the country’s sanitation development came to a halt and it began to degrade. Thousands of people living in Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas lost access to not only clean drinking water, but also proper sanitation. Zimbabwe’s constitution states that every person has the right to “safe, clean, and potable water,” but the country still has a lot of work to do to make that statement come true. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Zimbabwe.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Zimbabwe

  1. Water coverage has been increasing since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Water coverage has increased from 32 percent to 56 percent in the 20 years after the nation gained independence. This increase in coverage has also directly improved overall sanitation access, from 28 percent to 56 percent. Two main elements propelled the growth of the country’s sanitation infrastructure: interest in urban and commercial farming and implementation of innovative technologies by the Integrated Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (IRWSSP). Both endeavors helped drive urban sanitation coverage to 90 percent up until the late 1990s when the economic crisis caused the coverage to decline.
  2. The rural sanitation infrastructure is still vastly underdeveloped. When comparing the rural system to the urban infrastructure of sanitation in Zimbabwe, flushing toilets, running water and access to clean drinking water is uncommon in rural areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 66 percent of the population in more affluent areas of Zimbabwe has access to basic sanitation, while only 13 percent of the population in poor areas has basic sanitation access. Further, while Zimbabwe’s population does receive a small number of subsidies from the government to improve sanitation, 80 percent goes to the urban, more wealthy areas.
  3. Studies prove sanitation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas is significantly worse. According to a 2017 report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), 91.5 percent of urban households have properly flushing toilets, while just 36.8 percent of households in rural areas are without toilets. These rural areas do not have reliable access to water pipelines, and therefore, most of the population relies on open defecation. A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey study estimated that 42 percent of the rural population in Zimbabwe still uses open defecation. In order to bring the rural areas up to the standards of the urban areas, the government would need to spend $90 million per year on sanitation hardware.
  4. In 2010, the Zimbabwe National Action Committee created its Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector. WASH has helped to combine Zimbabwe’s urban and rural sanitization efforts to gain a more organized action plan on how to improve sanitation, restore leadership throughout urban and rural areas, institutionalize government responsibilities and support sector development. So far, WASH has aided in the doubling of water production in 14 small towns, worked with UNICEF to drill boreholes, creating access to more water. The WASH program has also worked on the Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (PHHE) initiative, supporting 432 sanitation action groups and 388 health clubs.
  5. Sanitation in Zimbabwe currently aims to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The government recently approved a gender-sensitive Sanitation and Hygiene Policy that aims to ensure Zimbabwe is defecation free by 2030. To achieve this goal, the Sanitation Focused on Participatory Health and Hygiene Education (SafPHHE) has been implemented throughout 45 rural districts in Zimbabwe. SafPHHE will produce a framework to improve sustainable and reliable sanitation services. By spreading awareness of good hygiene behavior and increasing sanitation coverage, open defecation rates should reduce in accordance with the SDGs.
  6. Australian aid has been supporting efforts to improve sanitation in Zimbabwe. CARE, an Australian-based international aid organization, works around the world but is also helping communities in Zimbabwe to build toilets and hand-washing facilities. About 6,671 students now have access to 2,870 new toilets with handwashing facilities in schools and villages in Zimbabwe.
  7. Feminine hygiene and sanitation in Zimbabwe are sub-par. Many girls and women in Zimbabwe, ages 15 to 29 years old, do not have access to proper sanitary wear, or Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). This lack of feminine hygiene poses health risks not only to women but also to their communities. Girls miss four to five days of school because of menstrual cycles, according to CARE. According to an article published by Jamba, MHM is clouded in cultural taboos, constraints and unhygienic practices that further cause health-related dangers for women and girls. 
  8. Households in Zimbabwe rely on donor-drilled boreholes for the water supply. While these boreholes do supply water, they are typically highly unsanitary. Specifically, cholera broke out in 2018, killing 30 people. Further, people sometimes use the boreholes as extortion for financial gain, or otherwise access the water.
  9. Local and national corruption further exacerbate the issue of sanitation in Zimbabwe. In the capital city of Harare, the water management system charges residents for water even though the water does not run properly and is contaminated. Further, the government admits that it does not use the revenue to maintain and improve the quality of the water. The Export-Import Bank of China provided Zimbabwe’s government a $144 million loan with no results in sanitation improvements. According to the Human Rights Watch, solutions include the government using a sliding-scale for the residents’ water supply cost and investing in sanitation and water strategies, such as building toilets, pit latrines and uncontaminated boreholes.
  10. In 2014, Zimbabwe’s government made a public pledge to create and sustain a sanitation and hygiene policy. The government anticipates improvements aligned with the SDGs by keeping rural water supply functioning long-term, improving the reliability of the urban water supply, rehabilitating public latrines, emptying the latrines when they are full and reusing wastewater. It was the plan to achieve the goals by 2015, but with clear corruption and without proper funding, it may take some time for Zimbabwe to reach its goals.

Zimbabwe has an intense need for sanitation improvements in both urban and rural areas of the country. These 10 facts outline the current reality of sanitation in Zimbabwe. In aiming to achieve the SDGs and more, the country can change in a way to allow people to lead healthy and safe lives.

– Marlee Septak
Photo: Unsplash

Water's Role in Development
To deny the necessity of clean and accessible water would be to deny the very thing that allows human civilization to exist, plants to grow and nourish people’s bodies and countries to foster globalization and connectivity across nations. According to the U.N., 785 million people lacked a safe and basic water source by 2015, and about a third of all countries reported being under some degree of water stress including low supply and hindered access to water. Water’s role in development has become the focus of ending poverty around the globe, and the efficient allocation and treatment of water still stand as major problems in developing countries.

Health Care and Sanitation

A lack of access to clean water often results in the spread of ailments such as malaria and diarrhea. Additionally, approximately 60 percent of people worldwide do not have access to adequate handwashing facilities. The effect of clean water on public health is staggering; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that access to water for safe drinking and sanitation could prevent 500,000 annual deaths from malaria. An organization called The Water Project aims to make handwashing and sanitation a fundamental part of mortality reduction and works to change behaviors imbedded in communities to stress the importance of water’s role in development and disease prevention.

Women’s Health and Childhood Development

The most vulnerable groups regarding limited clean water access are women and children; women spend almost 40 billion hours a year on transporting and accessing water in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, and about half of all girls in school drop out due to improper sanitation methods that prevent them from maintaining their personal hygiene needs during puberty. Women are therefore more prone to infection and violence, perpetuating a cycle of gender inequality in developing nations. Additionally, WHO projects that safe water and sanitation could prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea and dehydration a year; most of the diseases inflicting children are preventable and further emphasizes the crucial nature of clean water’s role in development.

Economic Success

For every $1 that someone invests in clean water resources, $8 goes back into economies to help with economic development. When people are no longer fighting waterborne diseases and are spending valuable time fetching water for themselves and their families instead, they are becoming educated and skilled. The manufacturing and agricultural industries suffer most greatly from this; a lack of a water sanitation system in a factory means that employees must leave work to use the restroom or find drinking water, and rural areas that often have a lot of farms depend on safe water for growing crops. The farmers provide the raw materials to the manufacturing sectors, but without clean water, both enter a cycle that mirrors the endless trap of poverty in which their workers often find themselves.

Societal Implications

Education of the public is a fundamentally indisputable part of ensuring that societies have what they need to function politically and economically. When resources, especially vital ones like water, are in short supply, citizens are more likely to fall into cycles of desperation that result in extractive institutions that take advantage of their vulnerability. Water’s role in development goes beyond health and the productivity of citizens; access to clean water results in communities that are free of the burden to prioritize their survival, and empowerment of these communities can lead to civil organization in which citizens have a say in their system of government and those who control it.

With growing recognition of the importance of water’s role in development, some have taken new stances on multisectoral impacts of the distribution and treatment of water. Simple solutions are proving to make the most effective impact on the lives of impoverished people with low access to clean water. Handwashing initiatives and environmental policies that eliminate the probability of unsafe standing water could lead to a decline in the number of deaths from preventable diseases. Also, in an increasingly globalized and changing world, countries must take into consideration changing weather patterns that alter the face of water-related policies. Water’s role in development stretches far beyond the goal of providing suitable water conditions for those in poverty; it sets the stage for more inclusive policies that ensure the protection of those that limited clean water made vulnerable.

– Jessica Ball
Photo: Creative Commons