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seven decades as a conglomerate of the larger Soviet Union, industrialized early, making much of its industrial base outdated and inefficient today.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

5 Facts About Sanitation in Belarus

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

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

– Zak Schneider
Photo: Pixabay

 

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique
Mozambique is a Sub-Saharan African country located on the Southeast coast of Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. The country has a population of nearly 28 million people and is both culturally and biologically diverse. Global statistics classify Mozambique as one of the world’s poorest countries with a national poverty average between 41-46%. Slow economic growth and informal government control have led to unhealthy and unstable living conditions. Issues regarding sanitation and water services are prevalent in the country. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mozambique

  1. According to WaterAid, 14.8 million people in Mozambique do not have access to clean water, which is over half of its population. High levels of poverty make building and maintaining services difficult, or even unattainable. The government of Mozambique needs funding to make commitments to its citizens, but in 2016 following a drop in commodity prices, donors like World Bank halted all aid—furthering the economic crisis.
  2. Water is an essential daily resource for all people including those in Mozambique. People in Mozambique use it for direct consumption, cooking, irrigating fields and sanitation. Rural communities often have to obtain their water from natural sources like rivers, hand-dug wells or ponds.
  3. UNICEF identified that in rural areas, one in five people use surface water as their primary drinking water source. Water from rivers, lakes, ponds and streams can contain bacteria, parasites, viruses and possibly other contaminants. To make surface water fit to drink, treatment is necessary. In fact, UNICEF has taken efforts to improve water services in the form of implementing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Mozambique.
  4. The World Bank allocated a $75 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to Mozambique in June 2019 to help with water services and institutional support projects. The grant will fund water production, expansion and refurbishment on wellfields, water treatment facilities and intake to improve all water services, as well as building the country’s resilience to droughts.
  5. WaterAid stated that three in four people in Mozambique do not have a decent toilet, amounting to 21.4 million people. Access to proper sanitation leads to the ability to have good hygiene that affects livelihood and sustainability. Citizens have to travel even a few days to find a decent toilet or care for older relatives, so they are unable to work or attend school. Women and girls often suffer the most due to this as it can impact their ability to garner an education, as well as their health and personal safety.
  6. Mozambique has one of the highest open defecation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa at 36%. Nine million Mozambicans use unsanitary or shared latrines and have no latrine at all, defecating in the open. The poorest quintile is four times more likely to practice open defecation than the richest.
  7. As many as 76% of the population do not have or use improved sanitation facilities, with the rate being 88% in rural areas compared to 53% in urban and peri-urban areas. Citizens need access to improved water supply or better sanitation but often cannot obtain the necessities if they live in low-income, informal or illegal settlements or on the outskirts of cities.
  8. Poor sanitation costs Mozambique $124 million (US), yet eliminating the practice would require that the country build two million latrines. Mozambique loses $22 million per year due to open defecation. People that practice open defecation spend 2.5 days out of a year on average looking for a private location, which often leads to economic losses. The country also experiences a $22 million loss due to health care costs relating to open defecation illnesses. Additionally, the country spends $79 million due to premature death costs.
  9. WaterAid identified that over 2,500 children under 5-years-old die every year from diarrhea due to dirty water and poor toilets. Fragresse Finiassa, a mother of six, obtained training from UNICEF’s WASH Program. Finiassa stated that “We used to suffer a lot from diarrhea. When we had severe diarrhea, we would have to walk five hours to the health center for treatment.” The lack of a toilet meant that “At night, our shoes would often get dirty, because we couldn’t see where we were treading, and my children would also get scared to go out in the bush (to defecate) in the dark.” However, that all changed in 2016 when her community learned the dangers of open defecation and received training for toilet construction. Men in the community learned how to build latrines and covered them with concrete slabs for proper defecation and contribute to improved health.
  10. According to UNICEF, 246 of every 1,000 children born in Mozambique die within their first five years, with 13% of deaths directly due to a lack of access to proper sanitation and clean water, and poor hygiene practices. Cholera infection is the most common waterborne illness that citizens face due to stagnant water sources. Reports determined that there was a cumulative total of 6,382 cases and eight deaths as of April 2019.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Mozambique have shown that it may be able to eradicate poverty through improved sanitation and management of water resources, as these could foster economic growth.  Access to proper sanitation could greatly improve Mozambique’s economy and start to lift the country out of poverty.

– Anna Brewer
Photo: Flickr

 

Water Transport in Low-Income Countries
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 percent of the world’s population will live in water insecure areas by 2025. Around the world, about 2.2 billion people do not have safely managed water sources. This forces them to travel 30 or more minutes to get water and creates missed opportunities for those who have to take time out of their day to travel for water. Companies have created innovative solutions for water transport in low-income countries. Here are four facts about water transport in low-income countries.

4 Facts About Water Transport in Low-income Countries

  1. The WHO and UNICEF estimate that women and children fetch water for around 71 percent of households without a water source at home. This creates a disadvantage to women and girls who hope to go to school and work in the future. Studies have also shown negative physical effects on the body from constant water carrying. Individuals often have to carry much more than they can handle for 30 minutes or more on the journey home. People in these situations experience missed opportunities because of physical or mental fatigue, as well as time lost due to water collecting. A study that Jo-Ann Geere and Moa Cortobuis conducted found that the time to retrieve water ranged from 10 minutes to 65 minutes. They also may repeat this journey time multiple times per day depending on how much water they need. New ways of water transport in low-income countries are integral to the welfare of women and children in these communities.
  2. The Hippo Roller is an invention helping with water transport in low-income countries. The rolling water devices can carry up to 90 liters of water at a time and remove the need for heavy lifting. The device can last up to 7 years on rural terrain and provides a non-strenuous method of moving water from source to home. This innovative invention has made carrying water easier for around 500,000 people and the company hopes to continue to grow its outreach to more vulnerable communities.
  3. Communities continually attempt to shorten the travel distance from house to water source by building water services closer to living areas. The organization Water.org created a system called WaterCredit for people to take out microloans to install wells or sanitation facilities. The ability of homeowners to create their own source of water eliminates the need to transport water at all. The organization helped 27 million people so far in 16 countries and continues to expand on innovative ideas to bring clean water and sanitation to low-income communities.
  4. Another organization working to eliminate the need for water sources outside the home is Charity: Water. With a focus on local development, the organization takes an individualized approach to each community. It believes that by providing training and technology to local communities, individuals will have the knowledge to continue long-term maintenance on projects while expanding to new ones. The organization has empowered more than 11 million people through the funding of around 51,000 projects.

While these four facts about water transport in low-income countries show that water collection can be a challenge for many in the developing world, there are efforts to make water transportation easier. Through continued innovations like the Hippo Roller and efforts by organizations like Charity: Water and Water.org, water access for developing countries should become easier going forward.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in SomaliaLack of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is inextricably linked to extreme poverty around the globe. Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, has long faced issues relating to WASH. Though Somalia struggles with WASH, some organizations have vastly improved sanitation in Somalia. The following are 10 facts about sanitation in Somalia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Somalia

  1. Currently, only 52 percent of Somalia’s population has a water supply close to home. This impacts women and children especially since the chore of fetching water falls on them in this society. Women must trek miles in the hot sun to fill jugs of water. Mercy-USA has been working to tackle this water crisis since 1997. In addition, they have dug and repaired about 670 wells. As a result, more than 750,000 people in Somalia have access to safe drinking water.
  2. Only a quarter of Somalia’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities within 10 meters. Poor hygiene and sanitation practices due to a lack of access to proper sanitation facilities can lead to chronic/acute diarrhea, respiratory infections and cholera. Theses are life-threatening illnesses for some age groups. Just the past three years, more than 900 people in Somalia died from cholera. UNICEF is working to improve access to sanitation facilities. It provides integrated interventions that can reduce the incidences of these easily preventable diseases.
  3. Drought has increased the price of water, exacerbating the already dangerous situation. The recent drought in Somalia led to severe water shortages. This tripled the price of a barrel of water (200 liters) to $15. CARE responded to this drought by providing 10,000 people with access to water. Additionally, CARE distributed water purification tablets to areas most affected by the drought.
  4. In parts of Somalia, up to 60 percent of pastoralists’ herds were wiped out by drought. Recently, Somalia experienced a drought that had extremely adverse effects on the country’s pastoralist communities. As Somalia has a traditional agro-pastoral focus, this expected to severely impact the economy. The livestock sector accounts for 40 percent of GDP. Thankfully, “FAO reached 38.3 million animals in Somalia through animal health services.” This “provided more than 900,000 animals with supplementary feeding.” Additionally, it delivered more than 53 million liters of water to these animals in response to the urgent needs of these drought-stricken pastoralists.
  5. Action Against Hunger is providing hygiene education sessions to teach Somali communities about preventing disease. Diseases often spread due to inadequate knowledge surrounding hygienic practices. Action Against Hunger launched a cholera prevention program that provided communities with sessions on hygiene and sanitation. These sessions showed the importance of handwashing, properly disposing of trash and how to properly clean the toilets.
  6. About 37 percent of Somalia’s population defecate in the open, but this is changing. In rural parts of Somalia, open defecation is a common practice that can cause serious risks to public health. UNICEF is working with local partner HEAL in villages in Somalia to educate communities with the goal of ending this practice. Moreover, HEAL proved that simply educating these communities is quite effective. After UNICEF and HEAL provided these villages with technical assistance and ran awareness campaigns, many families used their own money to build latrines. Today 12 villages in Somaliland, two villages in Puntland and 25 villages in Somalia’s central and southern regions have achieved the status of “open defecation free.”
  7. Sanitation in Somali schools is improving. Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) addressed the need for functional toilets, hand-washing stations and waste disposal locations in Somali schools. PAH assessed schools in Somalia and identified five with the highest need for updates, one of which did not have a single running toilet. Additionally, PAH provided these schools with eight water kiosks. It rehabilitated existing facilities and built “20 triple latrine-blocks with hand-washing facilities.”
  8. Discussion groups are helping organizations understand how to improve Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Somalia. In Somalia, menstruation continues to be a taboo. Many women only have access to cloth rags that restrict movement. The cloth rags are unsanitary because houses do not always have the ability to wash them regularly. ELRHA sent 2,000 MHM kits to various countries, including Somalia. Its plans are to follow up in one and three months to measure the appropriateness, effectiveness, acceptability and value of these kits as a humanitarian relief item.
  9. Piped water from UNICEF-EU installed tanks is giving children hope that they will be able to attend school in lieu of fetching water. A joint urban water project is installing water tanks on the outskirts of Somali towns and pipelines. In addition, it will bring this vital resource closer to their homes. Farrah, who is 13 years old, supports his family as a water vendor. Hopefully, once water is piped into his town, he will be able to go to school instead of traveling daily for water. Farrah mentioned that “I will go to school. […] I will carry books instead of jerrycans. And I will walk with my classmates instead of a donkey. It has always been my dream to wear a uniform and carry books.”
  10. In the last year, more than 49,000 people had to flee their homes in search of water and other necessities. This came after a drought in 2016 to 2017 that displaced more than one million people. As a result, the U.N. Refugee Agency has been working with partners and government agencies to help those affected and displaced by the drought. They provided emergency assistance to some of the most affected areas of Somalia.

Lack of sanitation is closely tied to poverty. People are unable to break the cycle of poverty when their basic needs are not met. Somalia is still far from achieving proper sanitation for all who inhabit the country. However, these facts about sanitation in Somalia prove that hope is not lost. With help from generous organizations around the world, sanitation can become accessible for all.

Hannah White

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in El Salvador
Both water and sanitation are crucial to survival and a decent life. The water crisis has affected many countries and millions of people, but El Salvador, home to 6.1 million people, is dangerously close to running out of water. El Salvador’s abundant water resources are also grossly polluted, with only 10 percent of surface water safe to drink. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in El Salvador.

10 Facts About Sanitation in El Salvador

  1. Environmental degradation is a constant threat to the quality of water. El Salvador is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts, simply because of its geological location. But deforestation and animal migration also impact water sources, leaving the poorest inhabitants with contaminated water.
  2. The Cérron Grande is El Salvador’s largest body of freshwater and is one of the most contaminated in all of Central America. An investigation conducted by the Salvadoran Association of Human Aid Pro-Vida showed high levels of heavy metals, banned insecticides, cyanide and toxic algae. In addition, more than 8.5 million pounds of feces are deposited into the Cérron. This medley of contagions causes algal blooms and eutrophication. The National Service of Territorial Studies reports that only 20 percent of national rivers are safe to drink from.
  3. Residents fiercely oppose the privatization of water. In recent years, the government has attempted to implement a water tax, further limiting access to water. Academic and religious institutions, environmental organizations and community forums push legislatures to protect their water sources. The leftist political party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front also fights for the protection of water rights and equitable distribution.
  4. Historically, water management is controlled by big businesses. Examples are industrial plantations, luxury housing developments and bottling companies. In fact, a subsidiary of ABInBev called La Constancia fills thousands of Coca Cola cartons a day.  Situated on top of a major aquifer in Nejapa, over a decade of industrial waste has severely polluted the San Antonio water source. 30,000 residents rely on San Antonio for drinking, hygiene and cooking.
  5. Mining heavy metals had a drastic consequence. In 2010, it was estimated 12 million ounces of gold and 78 million ounces of silver were available to mine. According to the International Ecological Engineering Society, 950 tons of cyanide and roughly 22 million liters of water are required daily for extraction. Protesters say “No to mining, yes to life,”  demanding a ban on mining due to the contaminate risks to the waterbeds and the industrial use of such large quantities of water. In 2017, El Salvador banned mining, but the pollution left behind permanently tainted the quality of water.
  6. Experts predict El Salvador will be uninhabitable in 80 years. The water crisis continues to worsen for low-income and extremely poor households. The downward environmental trajectory in tandem with growing economic instability leads to young Salvadorans joining gangs to gain access to water. There are an estimated 60,000 gang members in El Salvador and water sources are often located between combating territories. Access to water is extremely controlled and many women and children risk their lives to collect it.
  7. Regulating water through legislation is the first defense against distribution inequality. The General Water Law, first introduced in 2006, defines, and therefore protects, access to water as a human right. It also promotes universal access to water sources. Most importantly, it implements community consultation in national decision-making regarding water and sanitation.
  8. Millennium Challenge Corp. committed to a 5-year investment compact with El Salvador in the amount of USD $449.6 million. The Water and Sanitation Sub-Activity was created to target the poorest parts of the Northern Zone and increase access to regulated water and sanitation systems. The Sub-Activity also provided technical assistance for maintenance and system sustainability which consequently lead to employment opportunities. Through the MCC, Compact Water and Sanitation Sub-Activity installed new or upgraded pre-existing pipelines in more than 7,500 homes.
  9. Ride4Water dedicates bike riding to raising money for clean water. Founder of Ride4Water Ryan Delameter uses the proceeds gained from long-distance riding to improve the access and quality of water. Ride4Water has installed Hollow Fiber Membrane Filtration Systems across three regions and 60 homes. The filtration system traps any harmful bacteria and microorganisms contaminating the water.
  10. Companion Community Development Alternatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to making potable water distribution a reality, uses solar power to bring clean water to villages. The solar retrofit was completed in 2019 and has reduced bills, operation and maintenance of water systems by $250-300 per month, lowering the overall expenses for families. By utilizing the sun, water is pumped 300 meters (~984 feet) from a spring and stored in a water tower. Chlorinated water is then distributed directly into homes. These solar-powered water systems belong to the people and can never be privatized.

Sanitation and water accessibility are often connected issues. In El Salvador, water is disappearing, compromising sanitation and health. These 10 facts about sanitation in El Salvador bring awareness to this very serious issue. With continued efforts by non-profits and other humanitarian organizations, however, water access and sanitation in El Salvador will hopefully improve.

– Marissa Taylor
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras
After decades of military rule, Honduras established a freely-elected civilian government in 1982. Honduras remains the second-poorest country in South America, however. Much of the country’s economy still depends on U.S. trade and remittance. The CIA estimates that about 15 percent of investing in Honduras is direct foreign investments from U.S. firms. Honduras’s GDP is on a constant rise, but it also reflects the unequal distribution of wealth. This unequal distribution of wealth contributes to the state of sanitation in Honduras. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Honduras

  1. A total of 91.2 percent of Honduras’ population has access to an improved drinking water source. However, access to an improved water source is more limited in rural areas where most of the country’s impoverished populace lives. An estimated 63 percent of the rural population lives in poverty.
  2. People in rural communities rely on unprotected sources. The rural populace, which does not have access to improved water facilities and infrastructures, is forced to rely on small springs and wells that are not protected. This reliance on natural water sources means that access to water for the rural populace can be difficult during the dry season.
  3. Decentralizing water and sanitation services helped sanitation in Honduras. In 2003, Honduras passed the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector Framework Law, which decentralized the water and sanitation services. The World Bank reported that this decentralization improved water services for approximately 108,000 families and sanitation services for 3,786 families. 
  4. The World Bank is contributing to decentralizing water and sanitation in Honduras. Through this project, the World Bank is helping to establish autonomous municipal water and sanitation service providers, thereby increasing sanitation coverage in Honduras.
  5. In 2015, 80 percent of the population had access to basic sanitation services. Similar to access to improved water sources, access to improved sanitation facilities is higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Those who do not have access to basic sanitation services are more likely to contract diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.
  6. New technologies help produce clean water for Honduras. Working with the Pentair Foundation, the Water Missions International (WMI) was able to provide water filtration machines in the Honduran district of Colon. The machine uses filtration and chemical disinfection to produce 1,000 gallons of water for less than 75 cents. WMI also established microenterprises in Colon, where local communities obtain ownership over their community’s filtration machine.
  7. Agua de Honduras program aims to provide local communities with data about their water source. Agua de Honduras provides communities, especially in the dry western regions of Honduras, with data on hydrology, soil properties, water demands and future climate scenarios to local communities. The USAID supports this program from 2016 to 2018 with an investment of $800,000.
  8. Mining in Honduras poses a danger to the quality and quantity of water in Honduras. Mining is a lucrative industry in Honduras. In 2016, mining contributed one percent to the country’s GDP and made up five percent of the country’s exports. However, there are reports of local mines in Honduras contaminating the local water source with heavy metals. Furthermore, the water demand from mining operations can lead to water scarcity for the local community.
  9. Environmental activists and communities in Honduras are in danger of violence and death threats. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries for environmental activism. In 2017, for example, people of the Pajuiles community fought against the construction of a dam that polluted their community’s water source. When the community set up road-blocks to prevent heavy machinery from getting to the construction sights, armed police force and swat teams forcefully removed them from the roadblocks. A protester in the same group was later murdered by a police officer.
  10. Climate change threatens Honduras’s access to water. Inside Climate News’s 2019 interview with the small rural community of El Rosario included a discussion of the effects of climate change for the people of Honduras. Residents of El Rosario reported that the prolonged dry season is hurting their crops and their livelihood. Some experts suggest that this lack of water could lead to further destabilization of Honduras’s political, economic and social climate. As many people will be forced to migrate from the effects of climate change, experts also suggest that there could be nearly 4 million climate migrants by 2050.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Honduras highlight the progress that has been made, as well as the continuing struggles. Moving forward, it is essential that the government and other humanitarian organizations continue to make sanitation in Honduras a priority.

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

WATSAN in rural India
India utilizes underground water more than any other country in the world. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all water that the globe extracts is in India. Within this, 90 percent of those residing in rural areas use this groundwater as the sole source of replenishment. Problems such as open defecation and the high cost of filtered water lead to a lack of sanitation and access to clean drinking water in rural India. One company, WATSAN in rural India, is targeting this through the creation of a clay-based water purification system.

What is WATSAN?

Chandrasekaran Jayaraman founded WATSAN in India in 2009. A portmanteau of the words ‘water’ and ‘sanitation,’ WATSAN is working to provide clean water and sanitation systems through low, cost-effective methods to locations in rural and urban India. Its water purification devices have successfully fulfilled the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 6 and has further progressed the mission to provide potable water to all.

The Filtration System 

WATSAN’s water filtration system, the ‘CPO Natural Terafil Water Filter,’ works in a simple yet complex way.  WATSAN’s filters do not use chemicals to purify the water; instead, they rely on natural materials to do the job. Built from nano-clay particles, the Terafil candle contains pores that are smaller than harmful bacteria and microbes. When polluted water pours through the candle, the harmful bacteria and iron particles remain on top while the clean water continues passing through the filter.

WATSAN in rural India has installed unique water filters for those that fall below the poverty line. This ensures that everyone has access to their filter without any complicated assembly. WATSAN’s design also allows for easy storage, ensuring that their filters take up a minimal amount of space.

The Impact

Due to the continued consumption of polluted water, a multitude of waterborne illnesses infects many people living in rural India. WATSAN has crafted a specific formula to alleviate these issues. With its filtration system, WATSAN in rural India has been able to deliver clean drinking water to over 16,000 homes in just a single year. This has effectively eliminated the number of people who waterborne illnesses affect.

Specifically, 25 million people across India have been living with no option but to consume fluoride-saturated water over the accepted parts per million, leaving many susceptible to several illnesses. The Terafil Water Filter filters minerals such as fluoride out and ensures that the water people consume contains the necessary parts per million and prevents diseases such as skeletal fluorosis and severe diarrhea. This exemplifies how simple solutions can dissolve large-scale issues.

WATSAN alone has provided products to over 2.15 million households in over 18 states in rural India. Going forward, WATSAN has committed itself to providing over 100 million rural families with its products over the next three years. Overall, WATSAN is just one of many innovative companies giving back to communities in rural India through its commitment to sanitation and potable water. Although access to clean resources in India is a persistent problem, effective work is combatting this. The Terafil Water Filter is a perfect example of a simple solution with the ability to create change.

Laurel Sonneby 

Photo: Pixabay

Malaysia’s Improvements in Water and Sanitation
Malaysia is one of many developing countries on the rise out of poverty and into wealth and prosperity. Like many developing countries, Malaysia had to make adjustments to its way of life. One of those changes was improving access to clean water and hygienic sanitation. Today, improvements to water and sanitation in Malaysia have made the country a model for other developing countries working to ensure stable and healthy livelihoods.

Improvements to Water and Sanitation in Malaysia

Malaysia’s efforts to provide access to clean water and pipe systems can be seen in data that has been collected. According to The World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program, reports taken in 2015 show that approximately 92 percent of Malaysian people have access to properly managed water supplies and 82 percent have access to hygienic sanitation services. Compared to other developing countries, these numbers are better than expected.

To tackle issues in clean water and sanitation access, Malaysia joined Vision 2020 in 1991 under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, setting out with a goal to reach developed country status by the year 2020. In addition to solving Malaysia’s water and sanitation issues, the agreement set out to address many other issues as well, including climate change, societal division, financial challenges and needed improvements in technological advancements.

World Water Vision

Under Vision 2020 is the World Water Vision process, which was established by the World Water Council. The World Water Council is an international water policy think-tank co-sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the World Bank and several United Nations programs. The global project set out to implement extensive consultation and to incorporate innovative ideas in the creation of future technology to ensure water access for all.

On a more national level is the Malaysian Water Visioning process. Supported by the Malaysian Water Partnership and the Malaysian National Committee for Irrigation and Drainage, it carried out consultations to determine the proper distribution of water for food and rural development at the national and regional levels. It also implemented extensive water sector mapping and studies on gender disparities pertaining to water access and control.

Case Study: Orang Asli Communities

Although water and sanitation access has improved tenfold, some important groups are still in need of aid. These groups include the poor, immigrant families and people living in secluded rural areas.

To better understand the problem, a case study was done on the Orang Asli communities of indigenous people. Compared to other parts of Malaysia, their health issues are worse than average, infant mortality was double the national figure and parasitic infections were as high as up to 90 percent in certain communities. Most of these issues, if not all, were largely due to poor access to clean water and sanitation.

The Orang Asli and the Global Peace Foundation worked together to create the Communities Unite for Purewater (CUP). This came after carrying out extensive interviews, workshops and other interventions. CUP combats poor water and sanitation access through the installation of water filters and pumps.

As a result, Orang Asli people no longer have to travel miles to get clean water. The new water pumps draw water from wells and transport it into filtered water storage tanks. These are then distributed to each household through a pipe system. The Orang Asli people have stated that this significant change has made their lives much easier. There are also now less prone to diarrhea and fevers.

Moving Forward

Malaysia has come a long way to improve its water and sanitation systems, making it one of the most promising developing countries in the world today. Malaysia has used many innovative ideas and tactics to overcome its water and sanitation issues, including creating initiatives through partnerships, promoting education and doing extensive research. One thing Malaysia will have to work on while on its road to success is to pay better attention to poorer groups to ensure that they get access to clean water and sanitation as well. In order to strive for peace, there must be equal and fair treatment for everyone, regardless of social class.

– Lucia Elmi
Photo: Pixabay

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