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sanitation in Cambodia
Despite experiencing robust economic growth in recent years, GDP per capita in Cambodia remains low. While urban Cambodians are now able to enjoy increased sanitation services and access to clean water, the majority of the population resides in rural areas where the living conditions are sub-standard. Below are the top 10 facts about sanitation in Cambodia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Cambodia

  1. Access to Clean Water and Sanitation: Approximately 50 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation and basic water supply, but only a quarter has safely managed water. More than 2 million people, or about 13 percent of the population, are still living without clean water and 6 million do not have access to safe sanitation.
  2. Increased Access to Improved Sanitation: The total number of people with access to improved facilities increased from 3 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2015. Cambodia has eradicated open defecation in urban areas and 88 percent of urban Cambodians have access to improved facilities. The progress is even remarkable among the poorest urban households with 82 percent now having access to improved sanitation, up from 0 percent in 1990.
  3. Open Defecation: Cambodia has the highest rate of open defecation in the region with 80 percent of the poorest rural Cambodians defecating in the open. This unsafe practice contaminates the land and water sources, exposing the population to dangerous waterborne infectious diseases and causing preventable deaths. Cambodia is working towards its national target of eliminating open defecation by 2025.
  4. Disparities Between Urban and Rural Areas: Forty percent of Cambodians in rural areas do not have access to hand-washing facilities compared to only 12 percent of the urban population. Almost 90 percent of the urban population has access to improved latrines while only 40 percent of the people living in rural areas do.
  5. Economic Costs: Lack of sanitation costs Cambodia up to $448 million annually, which is equivalent to 7.2 percent of the nation’s GDP. Health-related losses are some of the largest contributors to this economic impact, which account for 42 percent of the impact, or $187 million. Costs of accessing cleaner water, welfare and time losses and tourism loss due to poor sanitation also contribute to the high economic impact.
  6. Asian Development Bank (ADB): To support financing Cambodia’s goal of providing universal access to improved water supply and sanitation services by 2025, the ADB has approved $49 million in funding. Since 2005, more than 1 million people in Tonle Sap Lake have received benefits from ADB-supported water supply and sanitation services projects. The new project will benefit more than 400,000 people in at least 400 Cambodian villages.
  7. Plan International Cambodia: Since 2006, the program by Plan International has helped to promote the adoption of clean water consumption, hygiene and sanitation practice in hundreds of Cambodian villages. Using the community-led total sanitation approach, the program has helped 750 villages achieve the open defecation free status, as well as construct and install 130 wells, 65 water purifying systems and 700 sanitation facilities at schools.
  8. Latrine Access: Cambodia is making steady progress in increasing latrine access in the population, doubling the coverage rate in rural households from 23 to 46 percent in five years. Production costs have plunged, making latrines accessible and affordable to an increasing proportion of the population. The director of the Department of Rural Health Care estimates that 80 percent of Cambodians can now afford latrines.
  9. Cambodia Rural Sanitation: iDE, or previously International Development Enterprises, has announced a $10 million Development Impact Bond (DIB) to support Cambodia’s sanitation initiatives in partnership with USAID and the Stone Family Foundation. It is the world’s first DIB developed for the WASH sector, aiming to eradicate open defecation in 1,600 villages in six provinces by 2023. The impact bond will support iDE’s Sanitation Marketing Scale-up Program, which delivers affordable latrines to 10s of thousands of households annually and has successfully increased sanitation coverage from 29 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2018.
  10. Sanitation Marketing: Traditional programs focusing on education may be successful in raising awareness, but do not always translate to purchases of hygienic toilets. Sanitation Marketing is a market-based approach that aims to increase both the capacity to supply and the demand for sanitation by making owning a toilet more appealing and desirable for families. iDE and WaterSHED implemented this new approach and focused on the rural Cambodian areas, and both have been successful in enabling the sale of more than 260,000 toilets and increasing improved sanitation coverage in Cambodia’s rural communities considerably.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Cambodia give a brief overview of the challenges and progress the country is making regarding the WASH sector. Cambodia is making improving the quality of water and sanitation a priority, which not only ensures the basic rights of people and protects human dignity but also indirectly and directly benefits Cambodia’s socio-economic development. Despite facing many challenges, with support from different international and local NGOs, the government of Cambodia has committed itself to the achievement of its goal of providing universal access to clean water and sanitation services by 2025.

– Minh-Ha La
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 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

10 Facts about Sanitation in VietnamVietnam, once one of the world’s poorest nations, has seen remarkable growth after the economic and political reforms in 1986, transforming it into a middle-income country with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The rapid economic expansion has lifted millions out of poverty and provided them with access to services and goods that improve the quality of life. However, Vietnam does not prioritize some important aspects of development which affects the most vulnerable and low-income communities in the country. Sanitation is one such aspect that the government has not properly attended to. While 99 percent of people in industrialized nations have access to improved sanitation, only 69 percent of Vietnamese people had such access in 2006. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Vietnam.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Vietnam

  1. Vietnam has seen considerable progress in improving water supply and sanitation. From 1990 to 2011, the access rate to improved facilities of water supply rose from 88 percent to 99 percent in urban areas, and from 50 percent to 94 percent in rural areas. The access rate to improved sanitation facilities rose from 64 percent to 93 percent over the same period in urban areas, and from 30 percent to 67 percent in rural communities.
  2. Vietnam has experienced financial losses from poor sanitation. Vietnam lost an estimated $780 million due to issues related to poor sanitation. The cost of treating illnesses, losing income through reduced or lost productivity and losing time and effort finding access to sanitation facilities has driven the economic losses.
  3. Urban wastewater does not receive adequate treatment. The number of operational treatment plants is small, with the majority of households in urban areas relying on on-site facilities such as septic tanks or soakage pits and discharging overflow into waterways or drains. These household facilities tend to function inefficiently and rarely empty. Estimates determine that less than 10 percent of urban wastewater receives treatment. The drainage and sewage systems in Vietnam combine and often overflow in the rainy season, discharging waste into the streets.
  4. There are severe health impacts of poor sanitation. Poor sanitation and hygiene cause almost 11 million cases of diseases and over 7,000 deaths. Diarrhea is the main disease and also the number one cause of deaths from poor sanitation and hygiene, with reports of seven million cases and over 4,000 deaths. Vietnam estimates that improvements in sanitation and hygiene could reduce health-related costs by $228 million.
  5. Vietnamese people have limited access to sanitary latrines. As of 2011, only 55 percent of the rural population had access to hygienic latrines. In the Northern Mountains, Central Highlands and Mekong River Delta regions, 15 to 22 percent of the population do not have access to any kind of latrines, while 45 to 55 percent of the communities use unhygienic latrines. Only 20 to 30 percent of households own a hygienic latrine in these regions.
  6. Open defecation is still common in rural areas. While the national rate of open defecation has reduced to 1 percent, one in 10 people from rural areas still practices defecating in the open. The rate of open defecation is about three in 10 people for the ethnic minorities in poor and remote regions. This behavior contaminates the environment and water sources, making people vulnerable to various diseases. It is both a concern for health and economic reasons. Vietnam is committed to eradicating open defecation by 2025.
  7. Vietnam has provided an investment in its water supply. The public sector of Vietnam has invested $6.4 billion into 140 water programs and projects between 2006 and 2015. It is currently financing at $1 billion annually for the water and sanitation sector alone but still falls short of the investment requirements, which it estimates to be $2.7 billion annually. While public investment is declining, there are opportunities for developing and increasing the investment and operations of private sectors in Vietnam, as well as public-private partnerships.
  8. Vietnam is undergoing a Water and Sanitation Project for Schools in Vietnam. In 2016, UNICEF started the five-year project with funding from KAO corporation to improve environmental hygiene in rural areas of Vietnam. The project has renovated poor condition WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) facilities in 18 schools and provided training and hygiene promotion to 170 teachers in 40 schools since its inception. One hundred and forty villages in An Giang Province have achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. The project aims to reach 60 elementary schools by the end of the five-year period, benefiting 35,000 children in rural communities.
  9. Vietnam has international support and the SSH4A program. SNV collaborated with local partners to develop the Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All (SSH4A) program from 2010 to 2013, which the Australian and the United Kingdom governments funded. The program has benefited 200,000 people from poor households in the remote areas of Vietnam, enhancing access to improved sanitation and developing hygienic practices.
  10. Women have challenges accessing water in Vietnam. Many women in rural Vietnam face discrimination and many challenges in accessing WASH services, resulting in unmet sanitation needs due to existing gender norms and low income. The Women Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) project, which Water for Women Fund and Thrive Networks support, aims not only to improve access to clean water and sanitation but also to create gender empowerment and ensure social inclusion in marginalized households.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Vietnam highlight some of the challenges and achievements that Vietnam has made. It is undeniable that the country has made considerable progress in improving access to clean water and sanitation services over the past few decades. Thanks to both the national and international efforts, Vietnam was able to exceed both the Millennium Development Goal target for water and sanitation after a 15-year commitment. Vietnam is now working toward the goals of eradicating open defecation by 2025 and providing access to safe drinking water to all Vietnamese by 2030. To achieve these goals, it is important not only to focus on constructing new facilities but also to instill behavior change and public awareness campaigns at the community level.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

10 Facts about sanitation in BangladeshBangladesh, a diverse and culturally rich nation located in South Asia, is loved for its beautiful green scenery and numerous waterways. With sound economic policies and political reforms, Bangladesh has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Bangladesh’s remarkable economic growth has helped lift the majority of the population out of poverty. Millions are now able to enjoy fundamental living necessities such as access to clean water and sanitation that were not available before. However, there is still room for improvement. Here are the top 10 facts about sanitation in Bangladesh.

10 facts about sanitation in Bangladesh

  1. Contaminated water: Over 40 percent of all improved water sources in Bangladesh are contaminated with E. coli which could cause diarrhea, dysentery or cholera. Arsenic was also found in Bangladeshi groundwater, which could lead to cancers and social stigma. About 12.4 percent of the population was exposed to arsenic-affected water in 2012, a significant improvement from 26.6 percent in 2000. However, with 19.4 million people drinking this unsafe water, Bangladesh remains the country with the largest proportion of people exposed to arsenic contamination globally.
  2. Open defecation: Bangladesh has made incredible progress in reducing the practice of open defecation. Through the implementation of innovative behavior change campaigns and the construction of new latrine facilities, the rate of open defecation in the population declined from 34 percent in 1990 to only 1 percent in 2015.
  3. Menstrual hygiene: The taboo around menstrual health is prevalent in Bangladesh, emerging from an absence of proper awareness and knowledge. Only 36 percent of adolescent girls know about menstruation when it first occurs, and only 10 percent use sanitary pads during their periods. Additionally, only 22 percent of schools have separate toilet facilities for girls. This lack of knowledge and proper menstrual hygiene management directly impacts the education and well-being of Bangladeshi girls. About 40 percent of girls miss three days of school during menstruation, and nearly one out of three adolescent girls said that menstruation affects their school performance.
  4. Hygienic behavior: A 2013 UNICEF survey found that only 59.1 percent of the population wash their hands with water and soap. Another survey in 2014 reveals that only 40 percent of households have water and soap available for handwashing, compared to only 16 percent of the poorest households. The South Asia WASH Results Programme has helped to improve hygiene practices by teaching hygiene habits to over 4.1 million primary school children from 2014 to 2018.
  5. Economic cost: Inadequate sanitation and hygiene cost Bangladesh an estimate of $4.23 billion, which is 6.3 percent of the GDP. The largest contributors to this economic impact are health-related losses, which account for 84 percent of the impact, or 5.3 percent of the nation’s GDP. Costs of accessing cleaner water, welfare and time losses, productivity losses also contribute to the high economic impact.
  6. Access to hygienic toilets and sanitation facilities: The rate of sanitation coverage is only 61 percent, growing at 1.1 percent annually. More than 40 percent of all latrines in Bangladesh is still unimproved, and the sanitation facilities for children with disabilities are still lacking. Bangladesh is working towards increasing access to hygienic sanitation facilities with several projects supported by the World Bank, focusing on low-income and vulnerable communities.
  7. Disparities between different regions and households: UNICEF found that only 31.6 percent of people in Sylhet Division have access to E. coli-free water, comparing to 71.8 percent in Rangpur Division. Poor households are less likely to have drinking water on their premises, and thus have to spend more time collecting water from outside sources. They are also 10 times more likely to use unimproved sanitation than the rich.
  8. Universal access to improved water sources: 98 percent of the Bangladeshi population now has drinking water from technologically improved sources. This is incredible progress since only 79 percent of people had such access in 1990. About 83 percent of the urban population and 71.9 percent of the rural population had improved water sources available on their premises.
  9. Floods: Bangladesh is prone to flooding and water levels could remain high for months, which could damage freshwater ponds and shallow wells. Toilets also tend to overflow and become unusable due to the floods, contaminating water sources and exposing people to dangerous diseases. Since 2011, a local NGO called Uttaran has helped to construct improved toilet facilities that could survive floods and wells that provided safe water that benefited more than 2,000 people in these vulnerable communities.
  10. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS): The successful innovative approach from Bangladesh has since become an established approach used in many other developing countries to improve hygiene and sanitation. The approach aims to eradicate open defecation with the combination of community pressure and NGO support. It also focuses on personal responsibilities to finance one’s own toilets without imposing external designs and promote low-cost homemade toilets using local materials, which makes toilets a lot more accessible and affordable even to the poorest population. This approach has enabled hundreds of rural villages to reach 100 percent sanitation coverage in less than a year.

With the continuing efforts of the government and the aid from different NGOs, Bangladesh has achieved considerable progress in sanitation developments. Though many challenges still remain, Bangladesh is committed and making great strides to progress towards clean water, sanitation and hygiene for all.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Afghanistan
Following decades of civil war and negligence, Afghanistan has been experiencing a crisis regarding clean water and sanitation. The lack of an internal plan and a water infrastructure deficit had elicited urgent consequences such as various waterborne diseases and diarrhoeal diseases. Many organizations such as UNICEF took notice and decided to address this issue at its core. By providing funding and necessary resources, there has been evident progress within Afghanistan towards clean water and better sanitation. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Afghanistan.

 10 Facts About Sanitation in Afghanistan

  1. Limited Sanitation: According to the State of the World’s Toilets 2007 report, about 92 percent of Afghanistan’s estimated 26.6 million population did not have access to proper sanitation. Meanwhile, the number reduced to 61 percent by 2017. With this being said, poor sanitation exposes people, mainly children and elders, to life-threatening diseases. This issue also affects women and girls, putting them at risk for both physical and psychological damage. It affects menstrual, pregnancy and postnatal periods and creates an unsafe environment when in these periods.

  2. Turmoil: One can see the increasing number of cases surrounding poor sanitation as a direct consequence of the damage inflicted by years of war. Beginning in 1992, constant fighting between different mujahidin groups left cities such as Kabul in ruins, further damaging the water infrastructure. Following in 1996, the Taliban took over but did little to nothing to improve the already damaged water infrastructure, including necessary water pumps. Afghanistan, to this day, is still in turmoil, leaving no priority for local governments to improve sanitation and increase access to clean water.

  3. Lack of Reservoirs, Canals and Infrastructure: One major aspect as to why Afghanistan has a difficult time accessing clean water is the evident lack of water infrastructure. Geographically, Afghanistan is a landlocked nation that automatically creates a difficult landscape to receive clean water; therefore, Afghanistan depends on the natural flow of the snow runoff coming from the mountains. There are reservoirs to collect this water, but it is just not enough. Because of the lack of proper water infrastructure, only 30 percent of the water derived from the runoff stays in Afghanistan. Investment towards improving infrastructure is also scarce as the government does not see it as a prominent issue.

  4. Open Defecation: Open defecation is an issue that many countries face on a daily basis; however, it has been an astonishingly prevalent issue in Afganistan. It places many of the individuals and families leaving near waterways in much danger as human waste spreads disease quickly. To combat this issue, UNICEF alongside the Ministries of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Public Health and Education have partnered to end open defecation by 2025. They are pushing for the Community-Led Total Sanitation approach which advocates for people to build and use their own latrines.

  5. Increase Water Supply: In addition to implementing a plan against open defecation, UNICEF and the Ministries of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Public Health, and Education have been working to increase water supply to impoverished communities. They aim to steer the public to get clean water through the reliance of rivers, streams, wells, etc. Also, UNICEF aims to increase the government’s capacity to construct local water supply systems. Because of this new agenda, more than 300,000 new people living in Afghanistan received clean water in 2017.

  6. Water Systems: UNICEF is prioritizing gravity-fed piped drinking water systems or systems with solar pumps instead of regular boreholes with handpumps. These methods should provide more water, easy maintenance and close proximity even though they are slightly more expensive. Right now, most of the water comes from the five major rivers in Afghanistan, but this system brings water in an efficient and sustainable way.

  7. Action Within Schools: An important place to advocate for proper sanitation would be in the school environment, and UNICEF has done just that. Working with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF has aimed to create clean school environments and provide proper hygiene information in Afghanistan. This plan includes providing clean water, separate bathrooms and new handwashing stations in schools. This program is growing and is starting to enter more schools.

  8. Sanitation Efforts Aimed at Women: Some have also taken action towards improving sanitation conditions within schools and workplace settings for women and girls. By installing separate bathrooms for males and females, it provides women the opportunity to manage menstruation in a clean environment. Also, the ongoing introduction of curricula surrounding menstrual hygiene promotes rehabilitation and helps girls all around Afghanistan.

  9. Proper Sanitation in Emergencies: Launched in 2005, UNICEF created the WASH emergency center in Afghanistan. This group of various organizations respond during emergencies and help provide clean water, hygiene education and sanitation facilities to the people. For example, they gave hygiene kits to displaced families in the village of Kamalpoor. The kits included soap, detergent, towels, sanitary pads and a plastic bucket to collect water.

  10. Health Centres: Most importantly, UNICEF has aimed to make sure that hospitals and health centers are in proper condition to treat patients. The WASH program implemented focused on improving infection programs and patient safety. It is important to pay attention to the health of patients and to decrease as many cases of disease and death as possible, especially in the case of women and children.

Although Afghanistan still has some way to go, it has made tremendous improvements to its sanitation systems. With continued aid from organizations like UNICEF, it should only continue its progression towards clean water and sanitation for all.

–  Srihita Adabala
Photo: Flickr

7 Facts About Poverty in Yemen
Yemen demonstrates extremely poor standards of life expectancy, education and overall living. Yemen’s ongoing political unrest has been a major cause of the country’s poverty. Regardless of the cause, poverty in Yemen is frightening. Here are seven facts about poverty in Yemen.

7 Facts About Poverty in Yemen

  1. Even prior to its political instability, Yemen was already the poorest country in the region spanning the Middle East to North Africa. It exhibits the lowest rank on the Human Development Index (HDI) among Arab states. Yemen also ranks 178 out of 189 countries on the HDI.
  2. The U.N. estimates that approximately 80 percent of Yemenis are vulnerable to hunger. About 14.3 million are in need of medical assistance to combat malnutrition along with other issues. Starvation, cholera, measles and dengue fever are some of the main culprits. Roughly two million children in Yemen are in immediate need of medical help because of acute malnutrition.
  3. Poverty in Yemen contributes to its remarkably high infant mortality rate of 55.4 deaths under age 5 per 1,000 births. To compare, the United States has a healthier infant mortality rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Malnutrition contributes in large part to this statistic.
  4. Almost 18 million Yemeni citizens simply have no access to clean water. UNICEF reports that only around 30 percent of the population uses piped drinking water services. Contaminated water results in many infant deaths. UNICEF does its best to keep this issue to a minimum in Yemen. It maintains the operational water supply systems in Yemen. It also monitors and disinfects the water supply in urban areas and provides WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) humanitarian aid to displaced Yemeni citizens.
  5. Consistent waves in currency depreciation continue to chip away at Yemen’s economy. As a result, inflation threatens and terrorizes the economy and its consumers. It also exacerbates this humanitarian crisis. The Yemeni rial, the official currency of Yemen, lost 75 percent of its value in the past four years. With a GDP of around $27 billion, Yemen must rely on humanitarian aid.
  6. As poverty in Yemen continues to worsen, about two million children remain out of school. Unfortunately, this is due to a lack of teachers and schooling facilities. Without an educated population, Yemen will continue its impoverished conditions. Thankfully, UNICEF secured approximately $70 million for cash incentives for teachers in Yemen. In its efforts, UNICEF also provided access to education for more than 200,000 Yemeni children through the reconstruction of 18 schools and 218 school latrines.
  7. Such a blow to the economy devastated Yemeni citizens on an individual level as well. The World Bank reports that more than 40 percent of households lost their main source of income, placing people under the poverty line. The country is struggling to lift its people out of impoverished conditions. However, the World Bank has several large- scale emergency grants dedicated to Yemen during its crisis. These grants will work with health and nutrition as well as electricity and agriculture.
Poverty in Yemen stems from a range of unfortunate events, primarily its state of political instability under Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Such instability affects sanitation, infrastructure, economy and medical assistance. These seven facts about poverty in Yemen demonstrate areas of weakness where humanitarian aid can effectively assist. Organizations like UNICEF and the U.N. are already doing their part in the pursuit of aiding and providing for not only Yemen but many countries in similar situations. With UNICEF and the U.N.’s help, Yemen has a better chance of sustaining itself.

Colin Crawford
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

BARKA Foundation

Burkina Faso is a small, land-locked country located in western Africa. Due to recurring droughts and the lack of efficient infrastructure, access to clean water remains an issue in Burkina Faso, especially during the dry winter months when two of the country’s three rivers dry up. In addition to water scarcity, many areas still do not have the sanitation facilities necessary to ensure drinking water is clean and safe. An organization called the BARKA Foundation is working to change that.

Barka is an African word meaning gratitude, blessing and reciprocity. These three words embody the mission of the BARKA Foundation, an American non-profit that strives to bring clean water to all parts of Burkina Faso. In 2015, 93.3 percent of the rural population and 80.3 percent of the total population did not have improved sanitation facility access. Nearly half the country still lives without clean water. Dirty water can spread diarrheal diseases and other infections to the public. Below are descriptions of the BARKA Foundation’s current clean water projects, and the positive effects these projects have had on communities in Burkina Faso.

WASH

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH) is a long-term initiative that not only supplies rural villages with clean water but also educates the villagers on important sanitation and water purification practices. The goal here is sustainability. By giving village members lifelong sanitation skills, BARKA can be confident that their positive impact will continue after they have left. WASH objectives include digging wells, building latrines and educating members of the community.

Part of what makes the BARKA Foundation special is its culturally sensitive and community-based approach to clean water. Before any project starts, BARKA makes sure it is in accordance with the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This principle ensures that all beneficiary communities agree to the non-profit’s presence and initiatives, have the right to negotiate the terms of the agreement and can withdraw consent at any time.

BARKA also makes a point of developing sustained personal relationships with each village, so the two groups can develop trust and collaborate effectively. The foundation establishes water and sanitation committees in each town, which are run by the villagers and must be made up of equal parts men and women. These principles are central to WASH’s desire to create a sustainable system of clean water and sanitation. So far, more than 25,000 rural villages have been improved by WASH. The organization has drilled 6 wells and built 14 bathrooms in 5 primary schools in rural areas.

Social Art

BARKA recognizes the cultural importance of song, dance and performance in Burkina Faso. Therefore, to engage village members, the BARKA Foundation uses theater to relay information to the public. These performances involve a portable stage along with light and sound equipment. The plays often contain themes such as female empowerment and sustainable agriculture. After a performance, the audience and the actors on stage have a lively debate where questions may be asked or points challenged. The goal is to create an immersive and interactive learning experience in which everyone can participate.

The adult literacy rate in Burkina Faso is only 34.6 percent. For this reason, engaging and participatory education is extremely important in rural areas. BARKA wants to get the necessary information out there in an effective way that does not exclude illiterate members of society. BARKA has involved 10,023 people in villages and public performances to date, benefiting more than 16,000 people. The average audience size per performance is 432 people.

Walk for Water

A great way for people in their home countries to get involved with the BARKA Foundation is to do a Walk for Water. When there are no wells close by, villagers must travel to a water source to fill up heavy jugs of water and lug them home. The chore typically falls on the shoulders of women and girls in the village, so they usually have to attend to small children while making the journey. Often, those going to get water are barefoot or equipped with poor footwear. This practice is physically tiring and time-consuming and takes time away from girls’ education.

Walks for Water are an imitation of this daily burden. Classrooms, schools and clubs raise money and awareness by carrying water jugs and walking for a set distance (usually 6 kilometers). The fundraiser engages the entire community and is a great way to get everyone involved in an important cause.

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic water filters are a cheap, environmentally sustainable and generally effective way to purify household water. The CDC found that people who used ceramic filters were 60 to 70 percent less likely to contract diarrheal diseases from their drinking water. While these filters are useful for removing most protozoa and bacterial pathogens, they are typically not as effective at removing viruses. For this reason, filters should not be considered a long-term solution but rather an important step.

The BARKA Foundation uses a “cross-subsidization” model to distribute filters to impoverished areas. Essentially, BARKA sells the filters to NGOs and the Burkinabe middle class that can afford them. They then use those profits to distribute ceramic filters to poor areas, often visiting rural villages with little to no sanitation facility access. These filters represent a simple and effective way to ensure every household has at least some method of water purification.

The Future of Clean Water in Burkina Faso

Although the federal government recognized the importance of clean water distribution with the Water Act in 2001, Burkina Faso’s local governments largely do not have the money or resources to maintain filtered water and sanitation practices. The BARKA Foundation seeks to fill these gaps, and its efforts have no doubt resulted in success on the ground.

While it can be difficult to quantify exactly how much improvement BARKA has brought about, they are headed in the right direction. In 2005, a year before BARKA was founded, the life expectancy in Burkina Faso was 53.3 years. Today, the country’s life expectancy is about 61 years. BARKA’s various projects will continue to fight poverty by bringing clean, safe and sustainable water to Burkina Faso.

Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr