Water is an easy traveling venue for many small particles and microorganisms. Many developing countries suffer from poor prevention of waterborne diseases. Much of the water in areas with poor water filtration is filled with particles ranging from natural silt and oils to human waste and animal feces. These particles infiltrate a community’s water system, including the drinking water, leading to easy infection. Eighty percent of all diseases in developing countries are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Within developing countries, 1.8 million people die each year from waterborne diseases. Of these deaths, over 90 percent are children under the age of five.

Waterborne diseases are easily transmitted through unclean hands, uncovered food and contaminated water. The bacteria and worms that live in the contaminated water can easily be prevented. However, in a low-income country where health care is dismal, infections become detrimental to a person’s life. On top of living in an area with poor sanitation facilities, children living in these areas usually suffer from malnutrition. This leads to a weakened immune system, leaving them unable to fight off the infections caused by waterborne diseases.

Many steps are taken to aid in the prevention of waterborne diseases in developing countries. The easiest way to prevent diarrhea diseases is simple sanitation actions. This includes boiling water to disinfect it, washing hands frequently and cleaning dishes. On a small scale, these actions are incredibly helpful to reduce the risk of infection. On a large scale, much more must be done to prevent waterborne diseases. However, most developing countries do not have access to the necessary sanitation products such as soap. They also lack access to water systems that can easily filter out bacteria and waste.

Organizations such as Clean the World and The Water Project have dedicated their resources to make it possible to prevent waterborne diseases in low-income areas and provide access to soap, clean water and sanitation facilities. Clean the World distributes hygiene products, especially soap, to low-income areas that normally do not have access to such goods. This is done through recycling old, barely-used hotel soap and re-purposing them to developing countries. The Water Project combats diarrhea diseases by going directly to the source. It is an organization that brings clean water filtration to developing countries by building wells, rainwater catchment systems and spring protections. Clean water and sanitation is the key to preventing waterborne diseases.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr