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

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

Bicycles and Poverty Alleviation
The discussion of poverty and the stresses that poverty can cause has taken an interesting turn, right onto a bike path. While the association between bicycles and poverty alleviation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about development and aid, bikes and all their uses have been appearing in these conversations more and more.

Bikes in the World

Across the world, the number of people who own and ride bicycles varies. In the Netherlands, the Dutch own 22.5 million bicycles, meaning that bikes outnumber the 17 million people who live there. In China, there are around half a billion bicycles, averaging out to about one bike per household. Bicycles can be a great option for transport, health and sustainability across the world.

In less-wealthy areas of the world, bicycles can also serve as a crucial way to get access to health care and employment. In Kenya, a nation of 49.7 million, bicycles have been a long-used mode of transport but have recently seen a new use in one rural town, increasing the ease of obtaining clean and safe water.

Kenya & Water

Of the almost 50 million people living in Kenya, over 8 million live in extreme poverty, accounting for 16 percent of the country’s population. Rural areas experience the brunt of this poverty, housing almost 7 million of these people. While poverty and lack of resources hit areas such as education and health care hard, one area of life in Kenya suffers the most—access to safe and clean water for drinking and irrigation.

Over 40 percent of Kenyans rely on water sources that are unreliable and unimproved, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers. When combined with the lack of access to sanitation common in poorer parts of Kenya, this lack of access to water becomes even more problematic. A scant nine out of 55 public water service providers in Kenya are able to provide a continuous clean and safe water supply, leaving many residents to fend for themselves in finding this necessity.

Additionally, the scarcity of water has increased in Kenya due to climate change in recent years, creating massive issues for seasonal farmers in the country. Seasonal farmers rely on rainy seasons to create a living for themselves and their families, and unpredictable dry seasons have wreaked havoc on this way of life. Despite this lack of water, Kenya and the neighboring country of Uganda share the world’s second-largest lake and river system. The problem is not the amount of water in the area, but rather finding a way to easily and inexpensively move this water to where people need it.

Pedal Power

One Dutch charity, Cycling out of Poverty (CooP), partnered with organizations in Kenya and Uganda to find a solution to this problem. CooP began equipping residents with bicycles to increase and ease access to markets, farms and other food-related services and in 2018, connecting bicycles and poverty alleviation in a valuable manner. In 2018, CooP launched another innovative piece to their plan: a bicycle-powered water pump.

In Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya, the Green Hub Shop now boasts a pedal-powered water pump that efficiently and inexpensively sucks water from local sources such as streams and rivers to provide irrigation to dry areas. This pump allows for a longer growing season and a more successful and varied crop production, aiding farmers and their families in an innovative way. CooP and the Green Hub Shop have found a simple and successful pilot solution to a long-running problem, once again proving the beneficial link between bicycles and poverty alleviation.

– Elizabeth Baker
Photo: Flickr

Swarovski Waterschool
People best know Swarovski as a producer of extravagant crystals. The mountain rivers of Austria originally powered the company, providing a close connection and reliance on the water resource since the company’s founding in 1895. This connection was the eventual inspiration for the creation of the Swarovski Waterschool in 2000.

Water Challenges

  • Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and predictions determine that this rate will continue to rise.
  • Estimates determine that 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services such as toilets or latrines.
  • Every day, approximately 1,000 children die as a result of preventable water-related or sanitation-related diseases.
  • Moreover, 70 percent of all deaths from natural disasters are from floods and other water-related disasters.
  • Gender disparity in water collection is a major issue. Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 percent of the households without access nearby.

The Three Pillars

Swarovski Waterschool helps communities overcome these challenges through the implementation of its three-pillar approach:

  1. Access to Safe Water: Working with local partners, the Swarovski Waterschool implements short and long-term solutions to provide schools and communities with access to clean drinking water.

  2. Water Education: The organization has developed its own curriculum, which it teaches local educators and works with them so they can integrate it into their lesson plans. The curriculum focuses on educating children on the importance of sanitation and the relationship between their community and their local water source. This pillar comes with an emphasis on ensuring that women and girls receive proper training and education to become leaders in the movement toward sustainability in their communities.

  3. Access to Sanitation Facilities: Swarovski Waterschool emphasizes handwashing and keeping rivers clean to promote healthy and sustainable living.

Reach and Impact

As of 2017, the organization estimates that it has educated 500,000 children, trained 10,000 teachers and interacted with 1.5 million community members across 2,500 schools. These schools are in seven countries spread across five continents. Its pilot program started close to its headquarters in Austria, but the projects have since spread to other communities and countries in greater need of education and resources. This includes communities in:

  • Brazil: The organization began its efforts in Brazil in 2014 alongside the Earth Child Institute and the Sustainable Amazonas Foundation. Its work here has focused on preserving the rainforest and providing sanitation facilities and rainwater tanks to villages in the state of Pará, one of the poorer regions in the country.
  • China: In China, the organization has reached over 100 schools across four river basins since 2008. Here, the focus has been on academics and developing projects that get the students collecting samples and information from their local water sources to learn more about them. The organization has also involved Chinese politicians to create greater awareness and enact change toward more sustainable living.
  • Uganda: Since 2009, the organization has supplied 30 schools with rainwater tanks and sanitary facilities. Swarovski Waterschool has also opened water supply systems for 20 villages, 20 water boiling facilities across several schools and installed 40 new and improved latrines with increased sanitation and hygiene.

Water and Poverty

From 1990 to 2010, global poverty halved. In the same time period, the percentage of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water also halved. This shows a clear connection between the two issues.

Additionally, a lack of access to clean water often leads to sick children, meaning missed school days. This especially affects the education of girls because they are often the ones retrieving the water. Some must walk miles to a controlled water source only available for a few hours every day. Lack of proper hygiene for young girls is also a major issue, often causing them to miss days of school and even to drop out.

Uganda is one country that has struggled to retain girls in its schools due to a lack of proper hygiene facilities. With all these disruptions in education, women and girls lose opportunities and become stuck in an impoverished life. Swarovski Waterschool has directed its work toward this issue in Uganda and elsewhere through the installment of new latrines and hand-washing stations which meet the needs of girls and allow them to stay in school.

Another major issue that the least developed countries face is the extraction of their resources to make products to ship all around the globe. Ninety percent of freshwater withdrawal in rural areas in the least developed countries is for the purpose of irrigation. Food and fiber production uses much of this water of which companies ship products internationally. The Swarovski Waterschool invests in local projects to improve the direct consumption and use of water.

Through its educational programs, installation of latrines, washing stations and water collection tanks and its work with local organizations and leaders, Swarovski Waterschool has been able to have a meaningful impact on the lives of those living in poverty. To learn more, watch its documentary “Waterschool” on Netflix which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and the World Economic Forum in January 2018.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Sanitation in Nicaragua
In November 2018, Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in the country’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector. Sub-Saharan Africa ranks as having the most limited access to clean water and sanitation and the region is most significantly influenced by the situation in Nigeria. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nigeria explore the impact of poor living conditions and the current efforts it is making to improve WASH conditions.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Nigeria

  1. Access to Clean Water: Currently, only about 26.5 percent of the Nigerian population has access to improved drinking water sources and WASH services. The lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities is at the root of numerous issues such as diseases, malnutrition and poverty. Poor sanitation hinders development while exacerbating health inequalities and poverty.
  2. Contamination and Disease: Contaminated water gives rise to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever. Limited access to clean water and sanitation is one of the most significant contributing factors to high mortality rates in children under 5 years old. Seventy thousand children under 5 years old die annually in Nigeria because of waterborne diseases and 73 percent of diarrhea and enteric disease cases in Nigeria are due to limited access to clean water and sanitation.
  3. Lack of Sewer Systems: Except for certain areas of Lagos, there are very little infrastructure and services to manage waste disposal. Seventy-one percent of Nigeria’s population does not have access to a sanitary toilet and disparities concentrate in rural areas. This means that often people will defecate in plastic bags, roadsides, railway tracks or bushes surrounding their communities for lack of a better option.
  4. Open Defecation: Currently, about 23.5 percent of the population in Nigeria defecates in the open. Open defecation is one of the main causes of water contamination. Because of the lack of governmental infrastructure, managing waste disposal is up to communities and individual families.
  5. Hospitals: The lack of sanitation in Nigeria directly impacts health care services. For example, 29 percent of hospitals and clinics in Nigeria do not have access to clean water or safe toilets. Patients’ immune systems are already weak, and poor sanitation significantly increases the risk of infection and complications.
  6. Lack of Political Infrastructure: One of the largest obstacles to increasing access to adequate WASH services in Nigeria is the lack of a unified government or political body. This makes it very difficult to mobilize communities and organize efforts. Issues such as the war on Boko Haram and corruption take priority for the Nigerian government because of the urgent safety threats that they pose. Investing in sanitation, however, is crucial for development and growth in the future.
  7. Economic Repercussions of Poor Sanitation: The Nigeria Water and Sanitation Program estimates that poor sanitation costs Nigeria $3 billion annually. This loss is primarily the result of premature deaths and sanitation access time. Estimates determine that each person loses 2.5 days each year trying to find a private location to defecate. The economic costs that result from poor sanitation disproportionately impact Nigeria’s poor, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and socio-economic disparity.
  8. Government Action: Currently, a disproportionately large amount of funding goes towards urban areas. In addition to the lack of financial resources, skilled workers rarely work in rural areas. Following the declaration of a state of emergency in 2018, the Nigerian government and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources launched the National Action Plan (NAP). This outlined a proposal for increasing coverage of WASH services in both rural and urban areas, as well as in schools and health facilities, by 2030.
  9. Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria project: With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WaterAid led the STS Nigeria Project to improve access to sanitation in the states of Ekiti and Enugu. This project included the development of the Water Easy Toilet (WET), an affordable and durable product. This is an example of SanMark (Sanitation Marketing field), which attempts to meet the demand for affordable sanitary products. SanMark is one of the main aims of the STS Nigeria project in order to increase access to sanitation technologies. The WET toilet can directly decrease open defecation rates and work towards improving WASH conditions in Nigeria.
  10. Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS): Along with SanMark, CLTS is one of the main interventions within the STS Nigeria project, aimed at educating communities about the negative impact of poor sanitation and open defecation. Both of these interventions target open defecation and try to offer alternatives or come up with solutions for specific communities. CLTS is a method that engages communities to analyze practices such as open defecation on their own. The reasoning behind CLTS is that communities need to understand the negative impacts that open defecation can cause because simply providing communities with toilets does not guarantee that they will use them. In Nigeria, CLTS has shown to reduce rates of open defecation in the poorest communities.

Improving sanitation in Nigeria is crucial to making progress in health and allowing for economic development. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nigeria illustrate the severity of the current situation and the many ways in which progress is possible. While access to WASH services in Nigeria has decreased since 1990, new technologies and projects such as the WET toilet and CLTS are working towards improving sanitation in Nigeria. Despite the political instability in Nigeria, the National Action Plan that the government launched shows initiative and potential for stronger political action toward universal access. Educating and engaging the communities themselves can influence change and encourage governmental action.

 – Maia Cullen
Photo: UNICEF

8 Facts About Sanitation in Bolivia
A small landlocked country bordering Brazil in South America, The Plurinational State of Bolivia has a population of approximately 11 million people. In the past 10 years, despite the drought in 2017 that left even the country’s elite without water, both the government and international organizations have made great strides towards improving sanitation in the country. Here are eight facts about sanitation in Bolivia.

8 Facts About Sanitation in Bolivia

  1. In the 2009 constitution, the Bolivian government determined that access to water and sanitation in the country is a fundamental human right. This law provides legal and governmental acknowledgment and support for people lacking proper sanitary services. After the implementation of this law, the government tried different solutions to see which would produce the most comprehensive results. There was a “big-system” water allocation using large piping systems in urban areas. In the meantime, rural areas used “small-systems” focused on community-run structures. This was all in a governmental effort to show devotion for better sanitation in Bolivia.
  2. International organizations such as Water for People provide Bolivians with water and sanitation services. Water for People has been implementing sanitation in Bolivia since 1997. The organization promotes the construction of handwashing stations at schools and provides small loans to purchase materials such as toilets. In addition, it provides sinks for better sanitation practices in households. This organization alone has given 78 percent of households access to clean water in Bolivia.
  3. The elimination of public defecation is a huge goal of the United Nations. Public defecation causes disease and water pollution. According to the U.N. Progress report, there has been an approximate 20 percent decrease in public defecation since 2000 in Bolivia. However, in rural areas, the public defecation rate still remains at around 38 percent as of 2017. To address these issues, organizations are building private toilets to keep drinking water and sewage water separate.
  4. Clean water is essential to proper hygiene and sanitation. In 2017, Bolivia achieved almost 100 percent of basic clean water in urban areas. Additionally, the rural regions have 78 percent of drinking water available. The ability to wash hands, take showers, drink safely, brush teeth and clean vegetables are all possibilities with access to clean water.
  5. Schools and households have strengthened sanitation in Bolivia with the creation of community handwashing stations. However, the state has stations readily available for only approximately 25 percent of its people. In efforts to raise these numbers, the government is working with international organizations such as UNICEF. Together, they want to raise awareness of the necessity of these facilities and the need for implementation. In 2010, UNICEF and the Ministry of Environment and Water began a Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in two regions. They also did this in 10 schools aiming to teach children about hygiene and sanitation in Bolivia. Doing so raises awareness on issues like the harmful effects of open defecation and the importance of clean water sources. The findings showed that schools did not always provide maintenance and extras like locks.
  6. Along with the construction of sanitation sites, there needs to be a plan for long-term management and maintenance of the facilities. According to the World Health Organization, there is a lack of information from the health sector and rural areas still have a shortfall in resource availability. Due to these factors, it is difficult to see a clear picture of progress. In the future, it will be important for Bolivian officials to release all information available so the country can reach further solutions.
  7. There are many innovative sanitation methods in the country. Educating the public about sanitary habits and improving governmental guidelines are vital methods. Another innovative method is starting community-run projects to build and maintain sanitation services. Also, encouraging gender equality to avoid gender-based violence regarding sanitation and water will also help the country. Efforts by UNICEF and other organizations, after using these approaches, have improved sanitation in Bolivia to 32 percent in rural areas and 82 percent in urban areas
  8. Menstrual health is a key component missing from sanitation in Bolivia. A study that UNICEF conducted in 2012 found that girls stay home from school because of menstruation. This is because others might tease them because of odor, stains, lack of proper materials or cramps that accompany girls during puberty. There is a theme of shame and embarrassment that arises because of the lack of menstrual education, and such a natural process often confuses and scares girls. In the 10 schools that the study observed, all 10 began offering menstrual education. In contrast, none had sanitary napkins available. Due to the average of 1.2 toilets and 0.5 handwashing stations per school, it is very rare that sanitary napkins are available to girls in rural areas considering the lack of resources. Because of this, UNICEF continues to spread awareness and funds to bring menstrual education and sanitary napkins to schools.

Despite the progress to provide citizens with basic necessities, there is still substantial inequalities between rural and urban communities regarding management and access to sanitation in Bolivia. The trend in multiple charts and studies has been that urban areas receive higher amounts of resource allocation than rural counterparts. To address these inconsistencies, international organizations like Water for People and UNICEF have focused on rural populations to curb the inequalities in sanitation.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: UNICEF

Facts about Sanitation in Nepal
Clean water and a clean environment are the foundations of a healthy life. Polluted water and poor sanitation can make anyone sick, regardless of nationality or geographic location. That is why it is so important to place global attention on the issues of water quality, hygiene and sanitation. Nepal has emerged as an example of how attention can lead to improved sanitation. Though challenges still exist, including drinking water functionality and regional disparities in development, Nepal has made significant progress. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Nepal.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Nepal

  1. Water supply and sanitation have been a government priority since 1981. The International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-90) saw increased investment in improving Nepal’s sanitation. For example, UNICEF and UNDP funded developments in water quality, hygiene and sanitation. The Nepalese government also expanded policies and programs in the sector. Among other initiatives, the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage developed a rural water supply project and a commission formed to evaluate water supply and sanitation practices.
  2. Nepal has made significant progress in water supply, sanitation and hygiene practices. In the last 25 years, a significant portion of the population—2.6 billion people—has gained access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities. In 1990, estimates determined that only 36 percent of the population had access to a water supply facility. As of 2016, 95 percent of households were using improved drinking water.
  3. Nepal is open defecation free. As of September 2019, all 77 districts announced the elimination of open defecation. A 2009 cholera epidemic caused a public health disaster and prompted a new wave of efforts to improve national sanitation practices. The government collaborated with NGOs and local leaders to execute a plan to create an open defecation free nation. This included adopting a no-subsidy arrangement as the basis for sanitation implementation and the construction of improved sanitation facilities.
  4. Drinking water quality is now the primary concern. Estimates show that access to safely managed drinking water is only 27 percent. Bacterial contamination and water pollution are highly prevalent and exacerbate the risk of illness. Many consider poor drinking water quality to be a leading cause of disease outbreaks, such as cholera. To address this issue, UNICEF is partnering with Nepal’s Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation to implement water safety plans and increase community awareness on household-level water treatment.
  5. Drinking water functionality poses problems. Of Nepal’s water supply systems, only 25 percent consistently function properly. Thirty-six percent require minor repairs and 39 percent require either major repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction. Poorly functioning systems result in an unreliable, insufficient or unsafe water supply. UNICEF’s New Country Programme is aiding Nepal in tackling this challenge and has emphasized improving water functionality as a priority.
  6. Regional disparities persist in access to water supply facilities and sanitation coverage. Terai, a low-land region characterized by steams, springs and wetlands, has higher coverage of improved drinking water sources compared with the mountain and hill belts. However, the mountain and hill belts have greater access to sanitation facilities compared with the Terai region. Geographic heterogeneity links to differences in capital, technology and environmental resources.
  7. Poor people are more likely to use unimproved water sources and sanitation facilities. Households from lower quintiles are less likely to be able to afford a piped water connection. Therefore, inequity persists in the use of improved water sources and sanitation facilities among socioeconomic groups. In these 10 facts about sanitation in Nepal, it is important to note the wide influence of the distribution of resources across different economic levels on access to sanitation.
  8. Issues with water quality related to contamination are more often chemical than bacterial. According to The Water Project, a nonprofit primarily based on clean water access in Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest contaminants in the Kathmandu valley and Terai regions are lead and arsenic. This influx of chemicals comes mainly from industrial practices but the regions’ sedimentary layers of gravel deposits interlocked with flood plains magnifies it.
  9. Nepal aims to ensure clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. The government’s specific targets are basic water supply coverage for 99 percent of households, piped water supply to 90 percent of households and the elimination of open defecation. Achievements in water, sanitation and hygiene will contribute to a number of other goals, including those in public health, nutrition and poverty.
  10. UNICEF is working in collaboration with Nepal to achieve these goals. UNICEF, in collaboration with the Nepal government and other non-governmental organizations, has set forth strategies for Nepal to expand access to drinking water quality and improved sanitation facilities. These strategies include expanding water quality monitoring, increasing education about best sanitation practices and engaging with the private sector for the construction of affordable, low-cost toilets in households and institutions.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Nepal showcase the progress that Nepal has made since the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. With continued attention, Nepal should be able to continue its improvements into the future.

Kayleigh Rubin
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Sanitation in Egypt
In Egypt, approximately 8.4 million people do not have access to good sanitation, but the country has made many attempts throughout the years to improve sanitary conditions. As a result, many people and young children are enjoying a better quality of life. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Egypt.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Egypt

  1. USAID Reforms: USAID has invested $3.5 billion to bring portable water and sanitation to Egypt. Starting in 1978, the organization has helped advance wastewater systems in Cairo, Alexandria and the three Suez Canal cities. This provided clean water to 25 million Egyptians.
  2. Health Impact: Drinking contaminated water can lead to very serious illnesses and, in some cases, death. In Egypt, diarrhea is the second-leading cause of death. This can be especially problematic for children under the age of 5. Statistics even show that about 3,500-4,000 children under 5 die each year.
  3. The Water Crisis: Recently, water has become very scarce in Egypt. This is due to uneven water distribution and the mismanagement of resources. The pollution of the Nile River, the main source of water and agriculture, is also a big issue for water sanitation.
  4. Population Growth: Since the 1990s, Egypt has seen a 41 percent population growth, meaning that more and more people are crowding around water sources like the Nile River. Dr. El- Zanfaly with the American Institute of Science wrote that the crowding directly links to the “contemporary rural sanitation problem.”
  5. Toilet Troubles: Another sanitation issue for Egypt is access to clean toilets. The majority of the Egyptian people have toilets that either has bidet tubes or are squat toilets. With squat toilets, users require a hose and bucket to flush and wash their hands. Both types can become very unsanitary, especially public toilets.
  6. Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program: On September 21, 2018, The World Bank announced that it granted a $300 million loan to Egypt. The loan was to improve access to rural sanitation. As a result of the program, 833,000 Egyptians have gained access to local water and sanitation companies and additional financing will help 892,000 people in 178,000 households.
  7. North Sinai Initiative: USAID partnered with the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater. They work together to improve water sources by digging deep regulated wells and constructing desalination plants, reservoirs and portable water transmissions. Estimates determined that by 2019, the initiative should have provided clean drinking water to 300,000 of the 450,000 people living in the area. The total cost of the project was $50 million.
  8. Menstrual Hygiene: The lack of clean water can especially impact women. NCBI conducted a study with 664 girls aged 14-18. In this study, it found that on average the typical female Egyptian adolescent cannot bathe nor change her sanitary pad as frequently as she should. Not maintaining menstrual hygiene can cause frequent rashes and yeast infections. Unfortunately, there are little to no actions in place to fix these issues.
  9. Ancient Times: The Ancient Egyptians had revolutionary methods of staying hygienic and clean with in-home bathrooms and communal dumps. They would gather water from the Nile to do laundry and bathe. The communal dumps or irrigation canals caused vermin and diseases to grow and spread. As technology and resources evolved, so did Egyptian methods of sanitization.
  10. Impact on Schools: One in five schools in Egypt are unfit because of sanitation and contamination problems. Programs like the water, sanitation, hygiene interventions or WASH spread knowledge to teachers and students.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Egypt show that the country has made many attempts to better the quality of life of its people. With time and further resources, Egypt should increase the prevention of sanitation issues and reduce the spread of diseases.

– Sarah Mobarak
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Argentina
Sanitation has been an ongoing issue in Argentina. In the last two decades, more citizens have gained access to running water and sewage than ever before. This is partially due to ongoing work by the United Nations, as well as an increase in national infrastructure. This article will provide a list of discussions around sanitation in Argentina, including causes, pollution and how the local governments are creating change.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Argentina

  1. Fracking damages natural water supplies. In September 2019, in Argentina’s Neuquén province, a fire burned for 24 days until professionals were finally able to stop the blaze. It was one of the many accidents that fracking caused in the country. In addition, oil leaking into the local water supply is one of the most common problems with fracking. These issues impact some of the most vulnerable communities, such as low-income areas, families with children, the elderly and disabled and local indigenous people.
  2. Low-income neighborhoods regularly struggle for clean drinking water. In the last three decades, Argentina has made strides to increase the amount of clean drinking water throughout Argentina. However, low-income areas and rural parts of the country remain without properly sanitized water for much of the year. In neighborhoods such as Villa La Cava, just outside of the capital Buenos Aires, it has become common practice for people to create their own makeshift water filters. People have also put small amounts of bleach in containers in an effort to clean their water.
  3. The United Nations has committed itself to sanitation in Argentia. In the summer of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared clean drinking water and sanitation human rights. The U.N. revealed during 2010 that the city of Córdoba was without access to public water distribution networks. A report showed that the city relied on heavily polluted groundwater and wells. At the time, the U.N. required local authorities to provide each household in the city with 200 liters of clean water per day until public water services were fully accessible.
  4. Argentina set a goal to provide sewage to 75 percent of the population. Water professionals and government officials met in 2017 to discuss solutions for better access to sanitation. During the meeting, Argentina announced a new goal of providing sewage access to 75 percent of the population.
  5. About 90 percent of the population currently has access to sewage.  The national government’s 2017 goal has proven to be successful. As of 2020, approximately 90 percent of the population has access to a sewage system. Much of this is due to the recent construction of a sewage pipe, which the Argentinian government has called “the most important one in 70 years.” The pipe cost $1.2 billion to make and runs 40 kilometers underground. These efforts have successfully increased the overall sanitation in Argentina.
  6. Proper sanitation in Argentina requires more infrastructure. Argentina received a loan of $320 million to improve the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires area. The money will go towards making much-needed improvements for sewage filtrations, renovating existing water treatment plants and 130 kilometers of water treatment pipes and expanding already-existing sewers. The loan specifically targets the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires region. While this is the most populated part of Argentina, much of the country still requires significant sanitation infrastructure.
  7. Regulation of public water utilities has grown in the last decade. Due to the involvement of the United Nations and a push from the public, government officials have become more focused on the regulation of public water utilities. Since the increasingly strict regulation of public waterways, the country’s overall sanitation has improved. This has led to a better quality of water not only in households but also in restaurants and schools.
  8. Water consumption in Argentina is among the highest in the world. ResearchGate reports that Argentina’s national water use is approximately 387 liters of water per person per day. This is some of the highest in the world. In Buenos Aires specifically, the water use is higher at 500 liters and people use it for personal use, hygiene, cleaning and drinking. In contrast, the Water Footprint Organization predicts that the average worldwide water consumption is 157 liters per person per day.
  9. The majority of water usage goes towards agriculture. Argentina uses most of its clean water for agriculture and farming. Because the country has such a vast variety of soil and tropics, farmers can grow many different types of crops to export throughout the world. Argentina is the largest international supplier of soybean meal and the third-largest supplier for corn. Pollution can be damaging to millions of these crops if water is not sanitary, resulting in lost time and money.
  10. Drier areas sometimes lack access to safely treated water. Because of Argentina’s varying climates, certain areas across the country are drier. These places are generally more rural and the people are less connected to the main pipes of larger cities. This can be dangerous because inhabitants often depend on rainwater collection for the ability to cook food and shower. When rain is scarce, people have to travel to lakes and rivers for water, making it difficult for Argentines to ensure that their water is safe to drink.

Sanitation in Argentina continues to be an ongoing challenge in rural areas, according to local townspeople. When the United Nations declared drinking water a human right in 2010, the Argentinian government began adding new infrastructure including pipes, sewage systems, water filtration tanks and water purification systems. While current efforts demonstrate that the level of sanitation in Argentina can undergo a major transformation, many areas throughout the country still struggle for clean drinking water each day.

– Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr