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Water Quality in BangladeshBangladesh, a South Asian country bordered by India, is one of the most impoverished and most densely populated countries in the world. Bangladesh currently has a population of 161 million in an area slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Iowa. Bangladesh’s economy relies heavily on agriculture as 63.2% of the country’s population works in industry and agriculture. Even with an unemployment rate of less than 4%, the poverty rate is 21.8%. The dense population, small area, reliance on agriculture and poverty rate cumulatively create a crucial need for clean water. Humanitarian organizations aim to improve the water quality in Bangladesh.

10 Facts About Water Quality in Bangladesh

  1. Water quality in Bangladesh has been a long-term struggle. Since the country’s independence in 1971, international aid agencies have helped Bangladesh with its water crisis. At the time, a quarter of a million Bangladeshi children were dying each year from bacteria-contaminated surface water. Bacteria and pathogens, such as E. coli, cholera and typhoid, were causing severe health problems for both children and adults.
  2. Bangladesh relies on groundwater. Because of contaminated surface waters in the region, 90% of the population relies on groundwater. Groundwater is the water that lies below the earth’s surface between soil pore spaces and fractures of rock formations. This water source is accessible through tube wells in the region.
  3. UNICEF and the World Bank attempted to improve access to water in Bangladesh. To combat the poor-quality surface drinking water and provide more water for agriculture, these organizations funded the installation of about four million tube wells between 1960 and 1970. The tube wells created access to groundwater throughout the entire country. Unfortunately, this led to mass poisoning due to contaminated groundwater.
  4. The largest mass poisoning in history occurred in Bangladesh. In the 1990s, arsenic was detected in the well water. The wells dug in the 1960s and 1970s were not tested for metal impurities, impacting an estimated 30-35 million people in Bangladesh. Ailments from exposure to arsenic include gastrointestinal diseases, physical deformities, cancer, nerve and circulatory system damage and death. About 1.12 million of the four million wells in Bangladesh are still contaminated with arsenic.
  5. Poor water quality significantly impacts public health. Arsenic poisoning is now the cause of death for one out of five people in Bangladesh. An estimated 75 million people were exposed to arsenic-laden water. The poisoning can cause up to 270,000 future cancer-related deaths. E. coli is also still present in 80% of private piped water taps and 41% of all improved water sources. Sickness from poor water quality is a major issue and 60% of Bangladeshi citizens do not have access to modern health services.
  6. Poor water quality impacts agriculture. Bangladesh relies heavily on agriculture with 70% of its land dedicated to the cultivation of rice, jute, wheat, tea, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits. The contaminated tube wells provide a majority of the water used for irrigation. As a result, high levels of arsenic are absorbed by many crop plants, specifically rice and root vegetables. This can be deadly to those who consume the produce.
  7. Contaminated wells are still in use. After the testing of tube wells in 1997, the government painted the contaminated wells red and the safe wells green to reduce exposure. However, officials used poor testing kits to examine the wells, leading to incorrectly marked wells. Unfortunately, many green-marked wells hold contaminated water that the public still uses. Additionally, the wells that were marked red were never properly closed off and can still be used today.
  8. Poverty plays a role in access to clean water. Both the wealthy and the impoverished in Bangladesh struggle greatly with poor water quality. However, the population living below the poverty line struggles three times more from water-related diseases and illnesses. Roughly two million people in poverty still lack access to improved water sources. Bangladesh is also one of the most impoverished nations in the world, with a per capita income of around $370. This greatly affects the government’s ability to combat the water crisis.
  9. Poor water quality limits the country’s potential. The economy, public health and education all rely on access to clean and usable water. Poor water quality has led to stunting in more than one-third of Bangladeshi children. These developmental impacts limit education and result in an increase in poverty. The mortality rate of those who have come in contact with contaminated water sources will continue to devastate the economy. Over the next 20 years, this could lead to a loss of about $12.5 billion for the Bangladesh economy.
  10. The water quality in Bangladesh can improve. There are many ways to combat the water crisis in Bangladesh. Creating mechanisms to enhance rainwater capture would provide a better-quality source of usable water. Along with rainwater capture, water purification methods and the construction of a water treatment plant would eliminate contaminants from surface and groundwater. Funded projects by groups like Charity: Water, Lifewater and WaterAid are working to improve sanitation and water quality in Bangladesh.

The Road Ahead

Bangladesh has shown steady and vast improvements in many areas. Life expectancy has grown dramatically in the past few years and now averages 72 years. Bangladesh’s per capita income has also increased and is growing faster than Pakistan’s. Furthermore, Bangladesh shows an upward trend in per capita GDP with an increase of 6% per year. However, water quality still poses a critical issue in Bangladesh. With commitment from the government and humanitarian organizations to resolve the water crisis, Bangladesh will continue to grow and prosper.

Kate A. Trott
Photo: UNICEF

Water Solutions in Tanzania
Every country should have access to sanitary water. Clean water provides nourishment, prevents diseases, kills toxins and is essential for agriculture. About 2.5 billion people in the world do not have adequate access to water. Additionally, 80% of illnesses that arise in developing nations are due to a lack of clean water. Having proper water solutions for developing nations is essential in fighting global poverty. This article will examine water solutions in Tanzania specifically.

About the Water Situation in Tanzania

Five million people endure serious water shortages in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, 4 million people do not have access to clean water. As a result, women and children spend a lot of time traveling to find water. Additionally, people traveling to Tanzania receive advisories to bring their own water. Tanzania and others have put substantial efforts into finding clean water solutions in Tanzania. However, there is still much to do.

WaterAid in Tanzania

WaterAid is an NGO that aims to aid countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Central America. Its goal is to provide water, sanitation and education to impoverished areas. WaterAid has been able to provide clean water to 17.5 million people. Furthermore, it has been able to improve sanitary conditions for 12.9 million people.

In Tanzania, this organization has successfully supplied 1.5 million people with water solutions and 97,000 people with better sanitation. Additionally, WaterAid focuses on delivery and advocacy. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of rallying support for policies that aid those living without sanitary water or sanitation services. This NGO’s goal is to provide water solutions for vulnerable communities in Tanzania by creating low-cost, sustainable projects.

Nonprofit Organizations that are Making a Difference

LifeWater is a nonprofit organization that strives to create water solutions and better sanitary conditions for struggling communities. The organization builds safe water sources and tests and maintains sanitation to keep impoverished nations safe. Furthermore, Lifewater has many goals for its 2021 water projects.

LifeWater identifies communities with a high need for clean water, sanitary conditions and better health. Then, staff who are familiar with the culture and language help instill sanitation regulations within these communities. These impoverished areas are able to obtain clean water and LifeWater is able to follow up with their progress.

Additionally, Water.org is another nonprofit organization that aims to bring clean water and sanitary conditions to everyone. It operates in countries within Asia and Latin America. This organization’s low-cost, accessible water solutions have positively impacted 31 million lives.

Water.org provides small, affordable loans to impoverished nations through its WaterCredit initiative. This initiative provides access to “affordable financing and resources for household toilet and water solutions.” This nonprofit continues to impact lower-income communities by providing water solutions in Tanzania.

Success Story in Tanzanian School

Water from wells in Bagamoyo became undrinkable due to seawater intrusion. As a result, students were unable to study because they spent most of their time fetching water. Students at Kingani school had to choose between drinking unsanitary water or having none at all.

With the United Nations Environment’s and its partners’ support in the rainwater harvesting project, living conditions improved. The project involves rooftop guttering and collecting large tanks that can store 147,000 liters of water. Thus, these tanks store rainwater for students to use for drinking, cooking and washing. Fortunately, this new project has generated a boost in attendance, health and motivation.

Organizations, projects and loans are beneficial in aiding impoverished communities. Providing water solutions improves nourishment and prevents illnesses. Furthermore, when women and children do not have to travel long distances to retrieve water, they are able to attend school, go to work and take care of their families.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr

Water CrisisDespite recent growth in the economy, Uganda is facing a national water crisis. Almost 24 million people in Uganda do not have access to clean water. On average each person in Uganda uses only about 4.7 gallons of water a day. Communities need clean water sources for drinking, cooking, farming and general personal hygiene. Clean water scarcity creates difficulties for all of these basic needs and negatively impacts the economy.

What Uganda’s Water Crisis Looks Like

Although Uganda experienced three decades of a growing economy, almost 40% of Ugandans still live on less than a dollar a day. In addition to its history of poverty, many people in Uganda struggle to find clean water. Traditionally, communities with high poverty rates rely heavily on natural water sources because they lack the technology to build wells and plumbing. The lack of clean water sources in impoverished communities propels the cycle of poverty.

A video by a global relief organization called Generosity.org documents the lives of Ugandans who struggle to find clean water. The video features a Ugandan mother, Hanna Augustino, who spends three hours a day getting water for her family of nine. Hanna explains that the water is so dirty it has worms and gives them diseases like Typhoid Fever. However, when the family gets sick, they cannot afford to go to the hospital. The lack of clean water in an already impoverished community leads to disease. In 2015 Uganda experienced a Typhoid Fever outbreak that was mainly due to contaminated water sources. For many in these communities, medical care is unaffordable. The water crisis causes a need for medical care for a treatable disease. The need for more medical care creates more financial hardship on families already struggling in poverty.

Economic Impacts

In addition to disease, collecting water is very time-consuming. In some areas like Hanna’s, it can take hours to retrieve water.  People spend hours getting water instead of working to provide income for their families or as caregivers themselves. Water retrieval is another aspect of the water crisis that negatively impacts local economies and continues the cycle of poverty.

Farmers are some of the most negatively impacted by the water crisis. Farming and agriculture make up a large part of the Ugandan economy. Poverty-stricken communities need water sources for irrigation and farming, which some families rely on as a household income. About 24% of Uganda’s GDP comes from agriculture. This portion of the economy is dependent on clean, accessible water sources. Without clean water sources, farmers’ animals and crops would die. Without farmers, local communities would have no food. As a result, farmers are an important local resource for local communities and an important cog in local economies.

 A Helping Hand

Despite the rippling effects of the water crisis, there are many organizations working to alleviate the crisis. For instance, Lifewater is an organization that funds “water projects.” These projects build clean water sources for villages that have none. Lifewater is currently funding 220 water projects in Uganda alone.  If you are interested in learning more about Lifewater, you can go to their website at Lifewater.org.

Lifewater is one of many organizations working to provide villages in Uganda with clean water. Along with being essential to human life, water can affect many different aspects of daily life. Spending hours fetching water or drinking dirty, disease-ridden water can negatively impact the local economy. Any negative impact on the economy is especially devastating for communities already affected by poverty. Like Lifewater, there are many organizations bettering local economies through their clean water efforts.

Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr

The Societal Consequences Of Climate Change
In this day and age, climate change has grown to be one of the largest issues around the world and it is important to understand its environmental impacts. First, the increase in average temperatures contributes to the phenomenon of global warming that affects millions of species and plants. In addition, extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, have become too common and far more destructive than before. Another primary consequence of climate change is the reduction of Arctic sea ice. Ice melts have contributed to sea levels rising, mainly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. According to the EPA, sea levels have risen approximately 8 inches since 1870. The world should take action to stop climate change before it is too late. The consequences of climate change could worsen in the coming years.

Many mainly focus on the environmental effects of climate change. Now, it is time for the world to shift its focus towards the societal effects that climate change has on all ages. Specifically, individuals who live poor livelihoods are more prone to poverty due to the climatic disasters that occur around the world. Living in vulnerable regions with limited resources affects people the most as it is more difficult to recover. As the repercussions of climate change worsen, escaping poverty becomes more and more difficult. As a result, issues like food insecurity and the lack of access to water become more prevalent. Here are some societal consequences of climate change.

Food Insecurity

Climate change has become a benefactor for global poverty by contributing to the issue of food security. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the climate affects all four dimensions of food security including food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food system stability. Typically, the consequences of climate change mostly affect those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity. By experiencing the immediate risk of increased crop failure, new patterns of pests and diseases and loss of livestock, these individuals are not able to depend on stable food supply. To add, almost 60 percent of the world’s population depends on the agriculture industry in respective areas. When climate phenomenons hinder agricultural productivity, food insecurity puts risks on the livelihood of many individuals.

With this being said, leaders, such as the United States of America, have taken action to help combat this issue in developing nations. For example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee supplied over $2 billion in climate-sensitive development support to developing countries in 2017. This included approximately $300 million targeted towards the food security sector. Moreover, projects like these provide an opportunity for global powers to display leadership qualities and allow countries that need aid in the food security sector to receive it. With proper access to food and stability within this industry, undernourishment will be an improving problem.

Access to Water in Developing Countries

Climate change seems to have a major impact on water access in developing countries. According to The New York Times, The number of months with record-high rainfall increased in the central and Eastern United States by more than 25 percent between 1980 and 2013. With this statistic being even higher in the eastern hemisphere, it is evident that floods have become a serious issue that many are concerned about. Climate scientists state that the soil and farmland absorb the excess water. Consequently, this means that the Earth could become contaminated with fertilizers and other chemicals. This polluted water typically travels to larger bodies of water such as the ocean, ultimately limiting water access for humans.

In addition, droughts are a growing issue in areas with hotter climates, limiting access to clean water. The lack of access to water can lead to health issues such as diarrhea and cholera. It can also affect the business sector in many nations. The Lifewater organization touches on this subject and explains that water is an essential component processing raw goods for food and textiles. This process provides jobs for millions and helps produce products such as coffee and chocolate. By understanding the importance of water to the health and economy, organizations such as UNICEF have implemented programs to educate the public on how to find access to clean water when natural disasters like floods and droughts occur. In the future, this action will also help alleviate poverty in areas that are at risk.

It is important that the international community shifts its focus on the societal consequences of climate change. Individuals such as Greta Thunberg and Christina Figueres already addressed this throughout the current fight against climate change. Hopefully, this will push governments around the world to implement policies that are more climate-sensitive. People need to view the current crisis from a larger perspective as it affects millions of individuals and their lifestyles. According to an article by BBC News, the world only has approximately 18 months before the effects of environmental change become permanent. In that period of time, it must highlight both environmental and societal consequences, and implement climate-sensitive policies. Additionally, individuals should believe in these improvements as they can lead to other positive changes such as alleviating poverty in lower developed nations.

Srihita Adabala
Photo: Flickr