10 Facts About Sanitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a country located in Central Africa, has been the victim of oppression, colonization and enslavement by European nations dating back to the year 1890. Violence and war continued for decades as a result. The Central African country currently lacks some essential sanitation resources, which has led to the spread of diseases such as cholera within the nation. Part of this is because half of the people of the DRC receive improved drinking water from wells and public standpipes. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in the DRC.

10 Facts About Sanitation in the DRC

  1. In 2018, only 29 percent of people in the DRC had access to basic sanitation services. There is 42 percent of people in the DRC currently using unimproved methods of sanitation. This includes pit latrines and bucket latrines.
  2. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is an indisputable crisis in the availability of clean and pure drinking water. UNICEF reports that despite the fact that 50 percent of Africa’s water reserves exist there, there are still millions of people living without pure drinking water. In fact, more than half the population of the DRC lacks clean drinking water.
  3. Many people and schoolchildren have benefitted from the national program, Healthy School and Village. This national program aims to provide clean drinking water to villages in Africa to prevent diarrheal diseases. Waterborne diseases, like cholera, claim the lives of thousands of people of the DRC per year. UNICEF reports that as many as 7 million people and 983,000 schoolchildren have seen an improvement in their quality of life from this program since 2008.
  4. Women in the DRC and other sub-Saharan African countries are bearing the burden of having to deliver clean drinking water to their families. Women and girls in the developing world, such as the DRC, spend up to 90 percent of their valuable time collecting water. The women and girls in the DRC rarely finish their schooling due to this need for water. In the DRC, the participation of boys in the secondary school system has been 25 percent higher than girls since 2009.
  5. In 2011, a program called We Are Water successfully raised 20,000 euros in an effort to give accessible drinking water to the DRC. The program estimates that with the funds raised, it will be able to minimize the cholera epidemic. It is giving 20,000 people from 30 different villages clean water to drink and maintain their hygiene. This will only increase the efforts for creating better sanitation in the DRC.
  6. The U.N. Refugee Agency’s Cash for Shelter project has given funds to people in the DRC so they may build their own homes with real functioning toilets. Most people can only dream of owning a toilet because they are living on a mere $2 a day. Through this program, they do not have to construct makeshift pit latrines. They can now create a sense of security and ownership for themselves. Since its inception in 2016, the UNHCR’s cash-based interventions have reached more than 20 million people.
  7. There are many initiatives that bring clean drinking water to the people of the DRC like Concern Worldwide. It has provided the village of Mulombwa with its very own water pipe, which has revitalized the village in so many ways. Throughout its 50 years, this program has reached 24.2 million people in 23 different countries.
  8. The proportion of people drinking surface water, which includes contaminated lakes and rivers, was 11 percent, as of December 2018. The use of unimproved water sources like surface water is nearly universal in rural areas, according to the World Bank. Urban areas have 81 percent access to improved water sources, while it is as low as 31 percent in rural areas.
  9. According to the World Bank, access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene services is low, improving only by 3 percent. In urban areas, however, access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is much higher.
  10. There is a trend of constant outbreaks of cholera in various regions of the DRC due to contaminated drinking water. The infection can lead to severe dehydration and diarrhea which, if people leave unchecked, could lead to death. From November 2015 to February 2018, there were 1,065 cases of cholera in the capital Kinshasa alone, according to the World Health Organization. Of these 1,065 cases, there were 43 confirmed deaths.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen little improvement in water quality and sanitation services. Thankfully, people and organizations are consistently working on improving everyday life for the people of the DRC. Whether it be funding Congolese families to have a functioning toilet in their homes or building a protected well for an entire village, there are several ways these organizations can make an impact

William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in India
In recent years, India has invested tremendous resources to mitigate its public health pressure, especially with respect to sanitation. The problem of the Ganges catches most eyes, however, uneven distribution of precipitation and demographic density cause issues as well. Due to the lack of appropriate access to clean water and related infrastructures such as toilets, waterborne diseases cost India more in actual societal and economic losses than the average level across the world. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in India.

10 Facts about Sanitation in India

  1. The Ganges River provides water access for around 400 million nearby dwellers, and unfortunately, cities directly inject over three-quarters of untreated sewage into the river. The government approved Namami Genge program has achieved operation of 75 sewage treatment plants, a river surface cleaning action plan and a desire to rejuvenate the river from heavy pollution.
  2. Open defecation and communicable waterborne disease are highly concerning in India. Water relates to 21 percent of diseases in India. Around 99 million people have no access to safe water and 500 children in India each day cannot survive through their fifth year on the earth due to diarrheal disease.
  3. Lack of adequate and appropriate toilets used to contribute to the main reason for open defecation in India. Only 32.7 percent of its rural households previously had access to toilets. This figure has now grown to 98.8 percent as 92 million newly constructed toilets cover most of the rural area. Research suggests that a great decrease is emerging while the coverage rate of toilets is rising.
  4. Mental and societal reasons determine the preference for open defecation. Research suggests that even in rural households with toilets or latrines, some of the household members prefer open defecation because they believe it is more pleasurable and desirable compared to the use of available toilets.
  5. Women’s risk of being sexually assaulted is higher when private and safe toilets are not available. At least 50 percent of sanitation structures remain unused or not used properly. Many women (300 million) have no or limited access to safe bathrooms. In some extreme cases, the problem puts females’ life at stake because of the unfamiliarity of toilet facilities.
  6. Vulnerability against seasonal changes undermines the capacity to provide sanitation in India. In the monsoon season, water treatment plants in low lying basins must shut down to avoid flash floods and power outages, while some water scarcity villages will only use the toilets during this period. In turn, villages cannot maintain sustainable water supply when periodic drought strikes.
  7. Water supply is the cornerstone of the sanitation system, yet the network is incomplete in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, villages are draining unsafe underground water for daily usage, and in cities, poor water management rises the potential pressure for water shortage.
  8. Limited water access in rural regions directly impedes children’s possibility to receive an education. In general, the shortage of water in rural areas gives people the added burden of carrying the water home. Instead of attending school, children are supporting their families with such undesired labor.
  9. The Swachh Bharat (Clean India Mission) contributed incredible achievements. India built about 1.5 million toilets in 2019 and over 100 million toilets during the past 5 years. In total, when the mission completed in October 2019, 60,000 villages were open-defecation free. The Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) coverage reached 100 percent of the state’s households.
  10. Partnership with Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) represents an outstanding international intervention of sanitation improvement in India’s local communities. It secured over $5 million in funding from the private sector. Fueled by this funding, 175,000 people have access to safe water and 25,000 communities are open-defecation free.

Today in India, diseases from untreated water and unhygienic defecation impact society not only through triggering the public health crisis, but also impacting females and children. Limited drainage systems and a lack of water preservation systems are two issues that could prevent India from fully integrating sanitation into rural areas. Fortunately, the Indian government’s campaigns keep sanitation in India on the top of its to-do list. The imperfections cannot overshadow the progress that India has made in promoting its sanitation.

Dingnan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji
Travelers all around the world know Fiji’s islands as picture-perfect tourist locations. Although translucent aqua waters gleam in the minds of tourists, Fijians do not always picture it as a resource let alone a source of leisure. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji

  1. Contamination: The University of Otago’s 2018 report on the typhoid problem in the Pacific, and perhaps the first one to investigate modes of transmission of typhoid fever in Fiji, illustrates the severity of the disease in Oceania. Many now think that the area is the global region with the highest incidents of typhoid fever. Typhoid in Fiji most likely spreads through the consumption of contaminated surface water and unwashed produce.
  2. Open Defecation: People still practice open defecation in some areas of Fiji. Human waste that people would usually flush down toilets ends up in metal drums which are just above the surface of the ground. Toilets can often be too expensive and when they are affordable, flushing them could cause an endemic spread of waterborne diseases like typhoid.
  3. Toilets: Flushing toilets are not ideal in the areas that are closest to the tide and to hurricanes. When disaster strikes, many do not advise flushing frequently. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “it can overload already weakened electrical systems that power municipal and regional sewer systems.” Fijians’ options are between pressing and pour-flushing and then disposing of the waste in the metal drums.
  4. Natural Disasters: Among this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji are natural disasters because typhoid outbreaks often follow them due to the practice of open defecation. According to Dani Barrington, a research fellow at the International Water Centre and Monash University, the tidal inflow mixes with industrial waste and waste from the metal drums.
  5. Typhoid: Certain water-borne illnesses look similar to others, but require different treatment options, further exacerbating typhoid’s impact. It is not uncommon to have patients presenting to the clinic with one disease and sent home to return with another, especially when there are no diagnostic laboratory tests with 100% accuracy to detect either disease. As a result, treatment decisions are usually based on how severe the symptoms are. According to the short version of the Fiji national typhoid fever treatment guideline, medical professionals often treat typhoid with Ciprofloxacin or Cipro for short.
  6. Vaccines: The NCBI notes that typhoid vaccines are not readily available in endemic regions citing several reasons. Though, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported that the measles vaccine is available free of charge in Fiji’s nearest health facilities, it is unclear whether Fijians have access to typhoid vaccines as well. Fiji seems to echo NCBI’s sentiments that there is a lack of sufficient evidence concerning the vaccine’s effects on certain populations and insufficient data on the disease’s severity. In particular, limited information pertains to the lack of health care access in the poorest communities affected by typhoid.
  7. Main Exports: A positive aspect of this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji is that water is one of Fiji’s main exports. For anyone who has ever wondered, the brand Fiji Water actually does come from Fiji. This means that Fiji exports much of its clean water to developed countries, yet the country’s poorest citizens do not have access to it. On the other hand, Fiji Water provides its citizens with good jobs. “The product itself is a little silly,” said journalist and “The Big Thirst” author, Charles Fishman, “but what’s interesting is that it benefits Fijians in a way that’s not silly at all.”
  8. Improvements: Fiji added clean water as a right in the constitution in 2013. UNICEF reported, “The Government’s commitment is also reflected in the National Development Plan targeting 100% access to safe drinking water by 2030 and 70% access to improved sanitation systems by 2021.” A 2011 Columbia University blog post stated that only 47 percent of Fijians had access to clean drinking water and a 2018 article by Fiji Sun reported that 78 percent of Fijians have access to a proper water supply.
  9. Portable Water Testing Laboratories: In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF assisted Fiji in developing its water quality surveillance system by providing technical guidance. The two organizations donated portable water testing laboratories and kits, Potalab and Potatest respectively. In addition, they trained environmental health officers of the Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MoHMS) in ensuring the equipment met international microbiological and chemical standards of water safety and quality. The equipment will ensure higher levels of accuracy, sensitivity and reliability in routine water quality surveillance. In addition, the equipment cuts down the amount of time needed to test water supplies after disasters.
  10. A Decrease in Poverty: In Spring 2018, the World Bank reported that poverty rates in Fiji were among the lowest in the Pacific. One should note that one can use different poverty lines to measure different poverty rates. The upper-middle-income class poverty line determined that close to half the population lived in poverty. This is the highest poverty rate in Fiji, however, whereas cases of extreme poverty are lower in contrast.

Though it may seem like Fiji has a long way to go, the country has already come so far. The progress Fijians, nonprofits and the Fijian government have made towards stabilizing Fiji’s economy and providing valuable resources is to thank for it.

– Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Nigeria
Nigeria is in a water crisis and water quality in Nigeria is suffering. The country has access to surface water and also water that comes from underground. Nigeria seemingly has enough access to water supplies, but in reality, only 19 percent of the Nigerian population has access to adequate drinking water. This is due to the fact that Nigeria is in a state of economic water scarcity. Economic water scarcity is the inability to protect and/or use water sources for socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability.

Water Disparities

This economic disparity is distorting the access to basic water supply for those living in impoverished areas in Nigeria. According to stats that The Conversation collected in 2017, about 80 percent of wealthy Nigerians have access to a basic water supply and healthy drinking water, while only 49 percent of poor Nigerians have this access.

Journalist Dele Sobowale researched the increases in the Nigerian population and found that the population is increasing by 6 million a year. Additionally, out of the 6 million, 80 percent lack access to safe drinking water. This means that the water they currently have access to does not meet Nigeria’s standards for safe drinking water. Nigeria determines if water passes its standards by testing for taste, smell, bacteria and E. coli.

The results of the tests concluded that 64 percent of Nigerian households have access to clean water sources, such as piped water, boreholes and collected rainwater. However, the results also showed that about 90 percent of Nigerian households consumed E. coli contaminated water at some point, either from the clean water sources or non-clean water sources.

Although all of this has been occurring, many are making efforts to counteract this crisis. Many organizations have been working to improve water quality in Nigeria.

Organizations and Efforts on the Ground

USAID has been trying to improve access to clean water and sanitation in Nigeria by partnering with local governments and private sectors. It understands that lack of access is contributing to the “high prevalence of waterborne diseases, threatens the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and contributes to low levels of school enrollment.”

The Corporate Accountability Global Campaign is another invite that is helping improve Nigeria’s water system. It partnered with the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA) to create a campaign that would captivate people and urge local officials to not turn the water system to private sectors. It has especially been working in Lagos, Nigeria to fight for water justice. Its goal is to stop private water corporations from interfering with the public water system all around the globe. It started with Lagos but it is part of a movement for global water justice.

UNICEF is also fighting for access to clean water sources in Nigeria, specifically for young children. Young children in Nigeria are suffering the worst from the water crisis because it is increasing mortality rates for children under 5. According to UNICEF’s data, “The use of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions result in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases, including diarrhea which leads to deaths of more than 70,000 children under 5 annually.” Children are dying and access to clean water sources is disproportionate among poorer children in this country.

In order to fix this injustice, UNICEF came up with a few solutions that will help reduce the amount of harm contaminated water is causing in Nigeria. These solutions include preparation for equal access to water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH), strengthening the government’s efforts to stop the practice of open defecation, expanding the capacity of national and subnational bodies to create equal gender-sensitive WASH policies and ensuring the rural communities have sustainable water sources.

Conclusion

Water is a basic need for human existence and there are some countries that do not have access to clean and healthy water. The help of organizations like the ones above can help fix the water quality in Nigeria. With one step at a time, people could eradicate insufficient water quality across the world.

– Jessica Jones
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Djibouti
The life expectancy of a country deeply intertwines with various factors, such as economic status, living conditions and nutrition.  People living within these countries often find themselves short on food, stable living conditions and consistent employment which may lead to a higher mortality rate.  These 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti will show the myriad of factors playing into Djibouti’s low life expectancy, and how NGOs and Djibouti’s government are making a difference in the region.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Djibouti

  1. Djibouti’s life expectancy is 66.81 years as of 2019. Djibouti’s death rate is 7.5 deaths per 1,000 people while its birth rate is 23.3 births per 1,000. While Djibouti’s life expectancy is dramatically lower than the global average of 72 years, 66.81 years is a 0.4 percent improvement from 2018.
  2. Djibouti’s life expectancy ranks 191 out of 223 countries, putting it on the lower end of worldwide life expectancies. Diabetes may cause many deaths and general disabilities in Djibouti, which causes the most death and disability of any disease.  This goes hand in hand with malnutrition, which also causes the most death and disability in Djibouti combined.
  3. Djibouti receives 90 percent of its food as imports, which is because of the arid conditions in the region that makes successful agriculture difficult. This, in turn, causes food insecurity to be a major problem, as 62 percent of the rural population has inadequate access to nutritious food.  However, malnutrition rates have dropped from 18 percent in 2015 to 7.5 percent in 2016.
  4. Sixty-two percent of rural Djiboutians have insufficient access to healthy food.  In order to counteract this, the World Food Programme and the Government of Djibouti teamed up to create the Humanitarian Logistics Hub, a facility built to house large quantities of food and goods for the Horn of Africa region.  The Humanitarian Logistics Hub can store 25,000 metric tons of food, making access to nutritious food easier for the Horn of Africa region.
  5. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been a force for good in Djibouti. IFAD has spearheaded multiple projects devoted to the betterment of Djibouti. One of these projects is the Programme for the Mobilisation of Surface Water and Sustainable Land Management which began in 2007.  This project intended to develop the Djibouti Ministry of Agriculture and local communities’ abilities to manage natural resources in a more effective manner and give practiced guidelines that would help spread clean surface water to local communities as well as guidelines for sustainable land management. IFAD considered this project a success and ended in 2013.
  6. Djibouti’s GDP (which is $5,307 per capita) should increase by 7 percent in 2019 with much of the economic growth coming from transportation and logistics due to the Port of Djibouti’s importance in the region. None of the countries with a GDP per capita around $50,000 have a life expectancy below 74 years. Conversely, no country with a GDP per capita around $500 has a life expectancy above 64 years.
  7. Djibouti’s drinking water sources are among the most modernized and widespread of all the nations in the Horn of Africa with 97.4 percent of the urban population having access to improved water sources (i.e protected springs, rainwater collection, tap water, etc.) Only 64.7 percent of the rural population has access to these water sources, though, which is due to the droughts that have plagued the country since 2009. This has effectively eliminated surface water in some rural areas. There is hope, however, as the IFAD’s ongoing project, the Soil and Water Management Programme is working towards ensuring that rural households gain access to sustainable sources of water. It intends to add to the network of hydraulic structures that the previous program implemented.
  8. Only 51.8 percent of Djiboutians have access to electricity. Much of the urban population (67.4 percent) has access to electricity and a paltry two percent of rural areas have access to electricity. However, Djibouti does have options in the form of renewable energy, primary in the form of wind, geothermal and solar.  Djibouti’s rural areas having inadequate access to electricity is because of the uneven distribution of energy resources.  The country can rectify this with power grid integration, however.
  9. Most people living in Djibouti are between the ages of 0-14 (30.71 percent) and 25-54 (39.63 percent) with less than 5 percent making it to the 55-64 age range. As of 2017, Djibouti’s most frequent cause of death is HIV/AIDS followed by heart disease and lower respiratory infections.  As of 2016, Djibouti has a Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ) of 35.0 which is a massive increase from the 24.3 HAQ in 2000.
  10. Only 47.4 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities while 52.6 percent of the Djiboutian population have unimproved sanitation facilities. Waterborne illnesses like hepatitis A, hepatitis E and typhoid fever thrive in areas of low sanitation, as they often spread when fecal matter and waste come into contact with drinking water. To combat this, USAID has enacted the Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) project that aims to educate the Djiboutian public on important hygiene practices, along with modernizing boreholes and ring-wells in more rural areas to prevent water contamination.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti show that while Djibouti has many issues contributing towards its abnormally low life expectancy, none of these issues are insurmountable.  What Djibouti lacks in resources it more than makes up for with its favorable geographic location that makes it a hub of local and international maritime trade.

An in-depth look at these 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti makes it plain as day that Djibouti can and will overcome the factors hindering the population’s low life expectancy.  Djibouti’s GDP increases every day thanks to its bustling port that provides jobs and goods; the Humanitarian Logistics Hub is a step in the right direction for Djiboutian nutrition and its water sources are second to none. Djibouti has shown that with a little help from NGOs and government agencies like the IFAD and USAID, it can become a thriving maritime hub where no man, woman or child goes hungry, thirsty or destitute.

– Ryan Holman
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Provide Access to Clean Water
Back in 2011, the creator of AquaSafi, Kevin Cluff, wanted to provide a solution to those 800 million people in the world who do not have access to clean water. He then created water purification systems to place in developing countries to provide people with access to clean water. Cluff and AquaSafi partnered with NGOs in India to bring the systems to the country due to how expensive the systems are. AquaSafi has already provided over 100,000 people with access to clean water and helped communities in other ways too.

Water Purification Systems

Having access to clean water is arguably the biggest necessity in developing countries. Clean water access is crucial because, without it, people can contract waterborne diseases such as polio, malaria, cholera and diarrhea. Diarrhea alone causes 2.2 of the 3.4 million deaths from waterborne diseases a year because developing countries often do not have access to modern medicine. Unfortunately, having access to clean water is becoming harder when people are polluting more and more of the water supply.

Luckily, AquaSafi has provided a potential solution to this widespread problem. The water purification systems that AquaSafi has created utilize reverse osmosis systems, which is a process that uses pressure to eliminate contaminants from water. Because the systems use only pressure, they require little electricity, water and space to operate.

Clean Water at an Affordable Price

To bring its systems to developing countries, AquaSafi partners with NGOs in those areas. By gaining the investments from organizations like H2O for Humanity, AquaSafi opened up stores in India where people can buy 20 liters of water for 3 cents. This affordable pricing is essential in making this an effective solution, as those living in extreme poverty are frequently living under $1.90 a day.

Other Benefits of AquaSafi

Through opening these stores, communities have benefited in ways that one might not think. Before, up to 4,000 children died every day due to waterborne illnesses. Now, in the communities with AquaSafi, the child death rate has dropped so much that school attendance is up. Additionally, the removal of fluoride from water sources has made cramps and joint pains go away for many people. Lastly, by opening up stores in the communities that most need them, AquaSafi has provided employment opportunities for locals. The organization trains those people on how to operate the system and perform maintenance when necessary.

By providing the solution of its water purification systems, Aquasafi has helped provide access to clean water to hundreds of communities. To lower the price per 20 liters, AquaSafi partnered with NGOs like H2O for Humanity so that those living in extreme poverty can afford it. The stores placed in these communities have also allowed those living in extreme poverty to gain employment opportunities which allow for the money spent on the water to go back into the communities. Overall, these water purification systems can save thousands of lives at an affordable cost as well as benefit the communities financially, which could potentially start to uproot people out of extreme poverty.

– Ian Scott
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

water quality in pakistan

Of the many problems plaguing the country, one of the biggest issues is that of water quality in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis have poor access to safe water, and in many cases, they do not have access to any water at all.

Lack of Water

Despite having some of the most glaciers of any country in the world, Pakistan is considered both water-stressed and water-scarce. Pakistan has the highest water intensity rate- the amount of water used per unit of GDP- in the world and also has the fourth-highest rate of water usage in the world. Many of Pakistan’s communities are situated in arid or semi-arid areas, receive very little rainfall and commonly experience droughts. The agricultural economy relies on flood irrigation to care for water-intensive crops. Ghulam Murtaza, a senior research officer at Pakistan Water Council said that farmers use 10 times more water than is needed for their crops. Industrialization and rapid population growth have led to the country’s water being used at a rapid rate, forcing many to walk miles to collect water or drink from the same sources as animals.

Water Contamination

Poor access to water makes it difficult for many to avoid drinking polluted water. Only 20 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water. The other 80 percent are forced to drink water that has been contaminated by sewage and poor chemical disposal practices. Most of the water in Pakistan is obtained from groundwater which is easily contaminated by improperly disposed of waste. Waste contamination in water can transmit many human diseases. About 50 percent of all diseases people suffer from in the country are caused by poor water quality in Pakistan. Many diarrheal diseases are endemic in Pakistan and cause up to 100,000 deaths each year and account for 33 percent deaths. The lack of safe water has led to a rise in the bottled water industry, but this is just as unsafe. A recent study found that 100 out of 111 bottled water companies were selling unsafe water to consumers.

What is being done

Fortunately, the Pakistani government is taking the water situation seriously. Set up of higher quality water filtration plants is underway in the Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan. Additionally, the government is also sponsoring dam-creation programs to lessen the strain on water requirement. The country also plans to improve sanitation conditions to reduce the amount of groundwater contamination.

Water quality in Pakistan is a long way from perfect. The many people of the country have limited access to any kind of water at all, and those who do likely are not drinking clean water. Poor management on many fronts has led to these shortages and issues. However, recognition of these issues is the first step to solve the water quality issues in Pakistan. The Pakistani government and other outside groups have taken notice and the country is taking its first steps to change the unsafe conditions surrounding drinking water.

– Owen Zinkweg
Photo: Unsplash

Five Diseases That Thrive in Poor Sanitation
Around 4 billion people in the world lack access to basic sanitation facilities like toilets or latrines and nearly 900 million people still defecate in the open. In addition, USAID estimates that 2.1 billion people currently do not have access to safe drinking water. These dismal conditions pose serious health hazards to the men, women and children living in these communities. Without toilets and latrines to separate human waste from living conditions and water sources, bacteria and virus are easily spread through food, water and direct human contact with waste.

World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4 percent of all deaths worldwide are the result of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio that thrive in unimproved sanitation conditions. This might not sound like a high number, but when considering that these diseases can be relatively easily prevented with inexpensive sanitation and potable water solutions, this percentage sounds absurd. The following list of five waterborne diseases that thrive in poor sanitation provides a glimpse of what is at stake when communities are devoid of proper water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.

Five Waterborne Diseases that Thrive in Poor Sanitation

  1. Diarrhea causes approximately 480,000 childhood deaths each year. This condition is linked to several viruses, bacteria and protozoans and ultimately depletes a person of water and electrolytes which, for many without oral rehydration solution, leads to death. One of the most important factors in eliminating diarrheal deaths, next to proper sanitation facilities, is handwashing. Something so simple can save lives and stop the cycle of diarrhea.
  2. Cholera is not just a disease from the pages of a history book, it is currently endemic in 51 countries in the world. It is unknown precisely how many deaths are directly the result of this waterborne disease, but WHO estimates that cholera kills from 21,000 to 143, 000 on a yearly basis. Contact with waste from an infected individual either directly or through food and water perpetuates the cycle of infection at an alarming rate. Proper sanitation is currently the first line of defense needed to curb this disease.
  3. Dysentery can be caused by either bacteria or an amoeba and presents an infection of the intestines. Fortunately, dysentery is usually cleared up on its own without treatment. However, this disease can be easily spread throughout communities without a system to separate waste from food and water.
  4. From 11 to 20 million people are infected with typhoid fever every year, causing up to 161,000 deaths on yearly basis. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by bacteria Salmonella Typhi through contaminated food or water and sometimes from direct contact with someone who is infected. Unlike many waterborne diseases, antibiotics and new vaccines can provide treatment and limited immunity. Yet, without proper water, sanitation and hygiene typhoid infection will persist and antibiotic-immune typhoid will spread which will make treatment of the disease more complicated.
  5. Polio transmission has significantly decreased over the past 30 years thanks to aggressive, worldwide immunization. Still, the threat of infection continues to spread as a direct result of poor sanitation. Poliovirus is spread when humans come into contact with the virus from human excreta or poliovirus that survives in the wild. Polio is close to being eradicated and providing sanitation to the areas where the disease persists is imperative if the world hopes to one-day be polio-free.

Strategies to Eradicate Waterborne Diseases

Efforts to control these five waterborne diseases that thrive in poor sanitation come from both government and international aid organizations. There is also a concerted effort to implement strategy and resources to address the need for clean water and sanitation.

On the strategy front, a 2013 call to action from the U.N. Deputy Secretary-General on sanitation that included the elimination of open defecation by 2025, the sixth Sustainable Development Goal that aims ensure clean water and sanitation for all as well as numerous global guidelines and action plans for water and waste management set forth by WHO, UNICEF and partners are paving the way for large-scale change.

Meanwhile, in terms of providing resources, some examples include USAID’s country-based programs between 2012 and 2017 that supplied potable water to 12.2 million people worldwide. Numerous companies are partnering with large development organizations to develop their own campaigns or are developing products like LifeStraw, Life Sack and PeePoople that provide immediate potable water and sanitation solutions to millions around the world. These examples, in addition to new vaccines, antibiotics and other disease-specific campaigns are working together to eliminate the threats posed by unimproved sanitation and to eradicate waterborne diseased that are taking the lives of millions of people across the globe.

– Sarah Fodero

Photo: Flickr