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origami provides access to clean waterPaper for Water is a non-profit organization located in Dallas, Texas that transforms lives through origami practices. In 2011, two sisters, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages five and eight years old, discovered that millions of people in the world do not have clean water resources. Furthermore, in impoverished countries, young women often skip school to walk miles in search of clean drinking water. So, the Adams sisters decided to make a difference by handcrafting origami ornaments for donations to build a well for an Ethiopian community. After raising more than $10,000, when their original goal was to raise $500, the Adams sisters established their corporation, Paper for Water. Here is how origami provides access to clean water.

Now, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages 14 and 16, work alongside hundreds of volunteers across North Texas. Since 2011, Paper for Water has raised over $2 million, helping fund 200 water projects in numerous countries. Paper for Water has trained over 1,000 people the art of folding origami. It has graced over 48,000 people with access to clean water through implementing water wells in deprived communities.

Paper for Water and Education

Additionally, Paper for Water educates local communities in the global water crisis. There are approximately 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea every year in children less than five years old. Diarrhea accounts for about 760,000 deaths in children under five years old annually. Diarrhea is now the second leading cause of death in children across the world, advancing AIDs, malaria and measles combined. Caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation conditions, diarrhea is one obstacle developing communities across the globe face.

Paper for Water stresses the importance of clean water well building through their past 120 educational talks, which reached 14,000 people. Paper for Water’s informational efforts gained the attention of influential social media platforms, such as Nickelodeon’s HALO Effect, the Kleenex Corporation, Martha Stewart Living, People Magazine and CBS.

Where Paper for Water Does Business

Paper for Water currently sells its origami ornaments on their online store and in some temporary stores as specified online, such as Neiman Marcus and Galleria Dallas. The beautiful, ornate decorations are Paper for Water’s primary source of financial donations. Each profit from an ornament sold goes straight into Paper for Water’s efforts of water well building abroad. So, with each paper folded, with each origami created, Paper for Water provides access to clean water. Nevertheless, Paper for Water relies on monthly donors of $10 a month to help maintain its goal of installing one water well per month.

Paper for Water has partnered with businesses across North Texas, instituting large installations of their elegant crafts. In 2017, Paper for Water constructed 350 origami ornaments for Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book. This partnership with Neiman Marcus enabled two schools in Kenya to receive water wells. Galleria Dallas and Mo Wax Visual partnered with Paper for Water in 2018, crafting over 4,000 origami butterflies for their “Fold to Flight” display. Galleria Dallas Mall provided Paper for Water with a temporary store during the summer installation. The Crow Museum of Asian Art’s Lotus Shop in Downtown Dallas also installed a Paper for Water exhibit. The magnificent origami piece exhibits a collaborative project with Ekaterina Lukasheva, a famous origami artist.

Current Partnerships and Success

Paper for Water also has partnerships across the United States through its essential volunteer base. Multiple groups of volunteers appear across the nation, consisting of the Well Wishers Group, the Paper Dolls Group, Paper for Water’s Youth Representatives Worldwide, NorthPark Presbyterian Church, Volunteers of All Ages Group and several families and school clubs across America. With the help of volunteers making origami ornaments, the organization can make a difference and administer clean water resources globally.

Paper for Water is transforming lives one piece of paper at a time. Through designing origami pieces, the organization combines art and philanthropy, supplying the world’s thirsty with clean water wells. Paper for Water hopes to end the world water crisis and continues to make and sell origami ornaments every day. Paper for Water’s website provides multiple options to get involved in the cause, from purchasing origami ornaments to learning how to make origami to volunteering or donating monthly. 

– Kacie Frederick 

Photo: Flickr

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

Water Quality in GambiaLocated on the western side of Africa is Gambia, the smallest country within the African continent. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Gambia has gained in popularity among tourists around the world. However, the low water quality in Gambia must be improved.

In spite of being the smallest country in Africa, it is a greatly populated one, with a population close to two million citizens. Thus, the combination of a small territory with a lot of people is a major cause of poverty in the Gambia. Within the 187 countries that constitute Africa, Gambia is the 165th most impoverished with a GDP per capita of $1,664.

Along with general poverty, the main problems the country faces relate to the environment. Fifty-seven percent of citizens live in the urban areas of Gambia; the percentage populates rural areas where one-third of the population is poor.

The lack of agricultural resources and seeds, amongst others, are why rural areas regularly face poverty. However, the problem of water quality in Gambia stands out due to its negative impact.

Pollution results in contaminated water, which affects the species and individuals who consume it. Unfortunately, Gambia lacks the sanitation facilities necessary to properly filter water for consumption. Furthermore, harmful compounds can be transmitted by polluted water, which increases the possibility of contracting a dangerous disease or developing further health issues.

The most prevalent waterborne disease in Gambia is diarrhea, the leading cause of death among children under five. Hepatitis A and typhoid fever are also predominant waterborne diseases as well as schistosomiasis.

Contaminated water not only affects those who drink it but can also have harmful effects if used for farming or cooking. It is estimated that 53 percent of Gambia’s population that reside in rural areas have access to clean water.

Needless to say, multiple organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund and Childfund International are fighting every day to be able to solve this important and concerning matter.

Identifying the cause of the issue and taking action by delivering water provisions, creating water filters and more, are initiatives that nonprofit organizations are working towards. The water quality in Gambia has already received some help and will get better in a near future.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Pixabay

Top Diseases in Iraq
The people of Iraq face many obstacles to their safety. When discussing the middle eastern country, many focus on the physical threats of violence, terrorism and forceful opposition. Health is also a hazard. Diseases spread in many ways. Infection can be airborne, blood born or spread through food and water. Blood-borne diseases, such as Hepatitis A and B, are a risk in Iraq. The two main transmission types in Iraq are food or water-borne and vector-borne. Here are some of the top diseases in Iraq.

  1. Food or Waterborne
    Hepatitis A is spread through a fecal-oral path. This route of disease infection occurs when fecal matter from an infected person is in the food or water consumed by another person, thus infecting the recipient of the food or water. This is why sanitation is the best precaution other than immunization. The spread of this disease occurs because of poor sanitation in food preparation. The risk of infection is much higher in developing or poor countries due to a lack of proper sanitation, which is why Hepatitis A is one of the top diseases in Iraq.Another food or waterborne disease that contributes to the top diseases in Iraq is Typhoid fever. Typhoid is a bacterial disease that contributes very high fevers. Like Hepatitis A, this is spread through fecal-contaminated food or water. Typhoid fever has a higher mortality rate. If the disease is not treated, one in five do not survive.
  2. Vector-borne
    Vector-borne diseases are spread through animals, insects or parasites. One of the top diseases in Iraq is malaria. Malaria is spread by mosquito bites. The disease causes parasites to accumulate in the liver and attack red blood cells. This often leads to death from interrupted blood supply to vital organs.Another top disease in Iraq is yellow fever. This, again, is spread through the bite of a mosquito. Although the severity varies, there is a mortality rate of 20 percent.

These top diseases in Iraq are less common in developed countries, as there are vaccines available. The economic infrastructure in Iraq does not allow for many of its citizens’ access to such life-saving precautionary medication.

Nate Harris

Photo: Flickr


With an evolving population of 4.3 million people, Croatia is known for its rich historical culture, beautiful landscapes and pleasant climate. As a result, Croatia has become a booming tourist destination. Although widely known for its attractions, many transmittable diseases in Croatia threaten the health of its population and the country’s tourism industry.

Here are just a few of the threatening diseases in Croatia:

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a systemic infection, usually contracted through contaminated food or water. The symptoms include prolonged fever, nausea, headache, loss of appetite and constipation or diarrhea. It thrives in areas with poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. According to a study published in 2014, approximately 21 million cases and 222,000 typhoid-related deaths occur annually worldwide, demonstrating the real threat that this communicable infection poses.

Currently, there are two typhoid vaccines that are recommended for use, including an injectable polysaccharide vaccine (Vi-PS vaccine) for persons of age two years and above. The other vaccine is a live attenuated oral Ty21a vaccine for those over five years of age.

Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through mosquito bites. The symptoms include fever, headache, chills and vomiting, which usually appear within 7 days or more (usually 10-15 days). If not treated quickly, this can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.

Malaria is preventable and curable, easing the burden in many countries around the world. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines against malaria or any other human parasite. However, with insecticide-treated mosquito nets and antimalarial drugs, malaria can be prevented.

Hepatitis B

As a viral infection that attacks the liver, hepatitis B is a virus that is transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. Every year, more than 686 million people die due to the complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A vaccine against hepatitis B is available in preventing the infection and the development of chronic disease and liver cancer complications. However, the treatment does not cure all cases of hepatitis B. By only suppressing the replication of the virus, lifelong treatments are necessary in order to fight against the complications of the virus.

Although the diseases in Croatia are constantly threatening the health of the country’s population and its tourism industry, many are continuing to develop innovative methods to help bring vaccinations and preventable solutions to Croatia, potentially saving millions of lives.

Brandon Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Improving the Water Quality in Djibouti
Water is a human necessity. The issue of water quality in the developing world is one that affects millions of people daily. More than half of the population of the developing world suffers from a water-related disease and about 6,000 children die from a water-related disease every day.

Djibouti, a small country off the eastern coast of Africa, is one of these developing countries. Currently, the country is experiencing a major national water crisis. Citizens in rural areas are the most affected: according to UNICEF, nearly 50% of people in rural communities do not have access to a safe water source.

Despite its coastal location, Djibouti is a country heavily affected by drought due to its arid climate. Most of the country’s water supply comes from groundwater resources, which have dwindled dramatically in recent years because of widespread drought.

Water quality in Djibouti is also a national problem. The little groundwater resources that are available are often of poor quality which has resulted in an epidemic of many waterborne illnesses.

The most high-risk water-related diseases in Djibouti are hepatitis A, hepatitis E and typhoid fever. These illnesses are contracted when people come into direct contact with water contaminated by fecal matter. Typhoid fever is the most deadly of the three, with a mortality rate of 20 percent.

Water conditions are slowly improving in the country thanks to efforts made by UNICEF, the European Union and Djibouti’s Ministry of Agriculture. This partnership, which began in 2007, has given more than 25,000 of the poorest people in rural communities access to clean water close to their homes.

The European Union has given UNICEF 2 million euros toward improving water sanitation in Djibouti. UNICEF also agreed to include an additional 60,000 euros to provide technical expertise.

More still needs to be done to improve the water quality in Djibouti. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), about 35% of the rural population has not received any improvements to their water supply.

Luckily, the Djibouti government has shown proactive concern in erasing the national water crisis. With help from UNICEF and the implementation of climate change policy in the country, Djibouti is looking toward a future of increased health and adaptability.

Laura Cassin

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Morocco
Although modern in many respects, Morocco remains a traditional country that struggles to combat certain diseases. The country with a population of 33,680,000 has a life expectancy of 71, which is right at the world’s average. Although there are a good number of physicians and medical centers available, the rural population still experiences difficulty accessing these facilities and safe drinking water. Here are the top diseases in Morocco:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis A, B, C, and E are all prominent in Morocco, but currently, hepatitis A and B are the only forms that can be prevented through a vaccine or medication. Regardless of where you are staying or what food you are eating, there is a high possibility of obtaining hepatitis A in Morocco due to contaminated food and water. It is also transmitted through person-to-person contact.

Hepatitis B, which is transmitted via blood and bodily fluids, is another dangerous disease. Activities such as intercourse with the local population, intravenous drug use, contaminated tattoo and piercing equipment or exposure to blood may yield hepatitis B. Symptoms usually include nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that inflames the liver. This form of hepatitis is similar to the others because it can be transmitted person to person and through activities that expose one to blood and other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis E is extremely endemic in Morocco and also inflames the liver. Water contaminated with fecal matter and foods that contain raw or undercooked meats, may result in exposure to hepatitis E.

Rabies

Rabies, which is found everywhere, is another prominent disease in Morocco. One can obtain rabies through mammal bites, especially from dogs, cats and bats.

Typhoid

Common in areas with poor sanitation, Typhoid Fever is a gastrointestinal infection that is transmitted from person to person. It’s found in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Western Pacific countries. Symptoms include headaches, lack of appetite, enlarged liver and constipation. Similar to hepatitis E, ensuring that one’s food is thoroughly cooked is an easy way to avoid typhoid.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, a disorder that has become more prevalent due to irrigation, is characterized by the inflammation of the intestines, bladder, liver and other organs. It was first detected in Morocco in 1914, but reached its peak post-independence when the new government was constructing numerous irrigation systems across the country.

Almost as dangerous as malaria, it is a serious parasitic infection that affects nearly 200 million people in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The lack of clean water makes schistosomiasis easily attainable because worms that carry the parasite can be found where people work, bathe or swim.

Although the top diseases in Morocco are affecting not only the population but those who visit the country, there is ample aid given to reduce the prevalence of these diseases. Organizations such as USAID and the World Health Organization (WHO) funnel money to provide more portable water, vaccinations and access to medical personnel and facilities. The U.S. planned to give $33,500,000 to combat top diseases in Morocco.

The country has been open to implementing strategies that lead to impressive differences. For example, Morocco started using azithromycin on a large-scale, the first country to do so, in an attempt to control trachoma.

Overall, Morocco has also made great strides towards eliminating other diseases including eradicating malaria, which it accomplished in 2010.

Ashley Morefield

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Chad
Since its independence from the French in 1960, the northern Central African nation of Chad has faced political instability in addition to harsh desert climates in the north. Due to complex political and environmental situations, Chad is ranked 185 out of 187 countries on the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index.

Health resources in Chad are low as a result of its poverty and politics, compared to the rest of Africa. Chad has a large refugee population of over 380,000 and 80 percent are Sudanese. With a deficit of proper resources and infrastructure to combat communicable diseases, here is a list of the top diseases in Chad.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection in the liver and is identified through five different hepatitis viruses. Chad is at risk for hepatitis A, B, C and E. Hepatitis A and E are spread by contaminated food or water and human waste. Chad’s hepatitis A and E risk is correlated with its sanitation and water practices. About 44% of Chad’s population does not have access to clean water.

While hepatitis A and E are endemic because of contaminated food or water, hepatitis B and C are spread through blood, semen and other bodily fluids. Hepatitis is resolved after four weeks of medical treatment.

Vaccines are recommended for children, as hepatitis can develop without symptoms during childhood. Vaccines for hepatitis B are more prioritized since it’s transmitted from person to person. In 2015, WHO-UNICEF estimated only 55% of people were vaccinated for hepatitis B, compared to the government’s estimate of 925.

Some solutions to solve hepatitis include more coverage of hepatitis B vaccines to prevent people from infecting others. Improving water conditions and sanitation would eliminate hepatitis A and E.

Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis and infects the meninges in the brain membrane. The potentially fatal disease can cause brain damage and deafness. Outbreaks are prevalent during the dry season in the Sub-Saharan meningitis belt.

The Sub-Saharan meningitis belt is a wide region of countries with a high risk of the disease, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. During the 2012 outbreak, there were 2,828 cases of meningitis in Chad and 135 deaths.

There are many campaigns supporting meningitis vaccine coverage in the belt. In 2014, meningitis epidemics reached their lowest levels. After Chad’s campaign, meningitis cases dropped by 94%.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a gastrointestinal infection transmitted from one infected person with poor hygiene to another person when handling food and water. The bacteria can multiply and enter the bloodstream and cause high fevers and fatigue. Typhoid is common in countries that have poor water and improper sanitation. Typhoid vaccines are highly recommended for travelers visiting Chad.

Malaria

Chad has a very high risk of malaria, with a greater incidence rate of over 85% of plasmodium falciparum malaria. Because of the high amount of malaria cases, Chad is receiving help for malaria prevention.

While progress for adopting preventative therapy for children is slow among WHO member states, Chad is the only country that adopted the recommended policy for infants.

There still is a lot of progress needed for top diseases in Chad to be completely combated against and its health resources to be improved. However, solutions are available to prevent most of these top diseases in Chad.

Taameen Mohammad

Photo: Flickr