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10-Facts-About-Sanitation-in-Yemen
Yemen is currently going through a severe civil war. The Yemeni government’s failed political transition has led to multiple uprising since 2015. As the conflict enters its fifth year in 2020, the effects are becoming clearer. At the end of 2018, over 6,800 civilians had been killed. An additional 10,768 people were wounded and the conflict also had a significant impact on Yemen’s infrastructure. Sanitation is one aspect of Yemen’s infrastructure that has been affected the most by the ongoing conflict. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Yemen.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Yemen

  1. Water is a scarce resource in Yemen. Before the current civil war began in 2015, experts already warned that Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, might run out of water in 10 years. In a BBC report, they noted that this water problem is exasperated by farmers drilling underground wells without any government regulations.
  2. In 2018, an estimated 19.3 million people did not have access to clean water and sanitation. Years of aerial bombing and ground fighting destroyed Yemen’s water facilities. The power plants that supplied electricity to power water pumps and purification plants were also destroyed. This has put the quality of water and access to water in jeopardy.
  3. People in Yemen depend on private water suppliers for their water, as a result of the destruction of public water infrastructure. An estimated 56 percent of residents in the city of Sana’a and 57 percent in the city of Aden depend upon these private water distributors.
  4. This reliance on private water distribution contributes to high water prices. Private water distributors set their water prices based on the prevailing market price and the distance traveled to deliver their water. Since many of the wells close to populations are drying up, the distance these distributors need to travel is increasing. In the city of Sana’a, on average, people are paying 3.8 times more for water than if they had access to the public water supply network
  5. The weaponization of water use as a siege tactic in Yemen. The Saudi-UAE coalition and the Houthi rebels use water as a way to carry out strategic military operations. In 2016, Saudi forces carried out a strategic bombing of a reservoir that served as a source of drinking water for thirty thousand people.
  6. Access to improved latrines decreased from 71 percent in 2006 to 48 percent in 2018. Unsurprisingly, places that prioritized the rampant famine and cholera outbreak had the lowest rates of access to improved latrines. Furthermore, the majority of female respondents reported that their access to the latrines was particularly challenging because the majority of the latrines are not gender-segregated.
  7. Water in Yemen is often not sanitary. This is a result of the direct impact the civil war has on the sanitation in Yemen. Cholera remains the most significant threat to water quality, with Yemen still recovering from the cholera outbreak of 2017. As of November 2019, there were 11,531 suspected cases of cholera in Yemen.
  8. Destruction of wastewater treatment plants is contributing to poor sanitation in Yemen. Without facilities to treat wastewater, raw sewage is usually diverted to poor neighborhoods and agricultural lands. This leads to further contamination of local water wells and groundwater sources.
  9. UNICEF undertakes many restoration efforts for water treatment facilities in Yemen. For example, UNICEF restored a water treatment plant named Al Barzakh. This plant is one of the 10 water treatment centers that supplied water to Aden, Lahij and Abyan governorates. This $395,000 restoration project had a major impact. Cholera cases in the region dropped from 15,020 cholera cases in August 2017 to 164 cases in January 2018.
  10. The World Bank Group’s International Development Association is working on a 50 million-dollar project to provide electricity in Yemen. The project aims to provide solar-powered electricity to rural and peri-urban communities in Yemen. In addition to supplying powers to Yemeni schools, the project will improve sanitation in Yemen by providing power to water sanitation facilities. This is especially important for girls’ education in Yemen since the burden of water collection usually falls upon girls, often deterring girls from going to school.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Yemen highlight continuing problems as well as several efforts to address them. Water was already a scarce resource in Yemen even before the current conflict started in 2015. As the Yemeni civil war enters its fifth year, the effects of the deteriorating sanitation in Yemen are more than clear. However, efforts by groups such as UNICEF and the World Bank are working to fund, build and restore many sanitation facilities in Yemen. With the recent indirect peace talk between the combatants, many hope that conditions in Yemen will improve in the future.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in the Middle East
Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan are among the bottom 10 countries when talking about access to clean water. Water is a primary necessity for human life. Without food the body can survive for up to three weeks, however, without clean water, the body will perish within three to four days, but not before going into shock and fading in and out of delirium. The water crisis in the Middle East is a serious problem now that ongoing conflicts in the region have only worsened.

Afghanistan

Of the three countries listed above, the water crisis in the Middle East affects Afghanistan the least. Despite that, Afghanistan is in the middle of the worst drought it has seen in the past 10 years. In addition, it cannot effectively distribute resources since 40 years of armed conflict following Soviet intervention in Afghanistan has ruined the country’s infrastructure. As a result, about 260,000 Afghani civilians living in extremely dry areas have had to leave their homes, making them refugees.

The drought has drained natural water sources such as the Kabul River Basin, the primary source of water for the nation’s capital. The established system for distributing water is no longer applicable, so civilians must draw water from unofficial wells. In Afghanistan, a country with over 35 million people, 87 percent of accessible water is polluted. Fortunately, India is providing assistance with the Afghan-India Friendship Dam on the Hari River. With further plans to build another dam on the Kabul River, Afghanistan will have water for irrigation and will not have to live with the threat of flash floods.

Syria

In 2006, a massive drought began that would displace tens of thousands of Syrian farmers. By 2011, there were over a million angry, unemployed former farmers in the country ready to fight in a violent civil war that would go on for years. If one said that the water crisis in the Middle East was the proverbial lit match in the powder keg, it would be inaccurate. One cannot, however, deny that it did fan the flames.

Now that tensions are dying down, Syrian civilians have little infrastructure to help provide them with water. Militant groups that occupy water plants and reservoirs hold monopolies on the water for entire regions. Oftentimes, these groups distribute water selectively to blackmail their enemies. Prior to the civil war that started in 2011, water allocation was already inequitable. President Bashar al-Assad allocated more water to fellow members of his particular sect of Islam. Now that Syria is rebuilding its infrastructure, there exists an opportunity to distribute water equally across the country in order to help prevent humanitarian disasters like this in the future.

Egypt

Even in the time of the pharaohs, Egypt has owed its life to the Nile. The Nile is the primary source of water for a country with rice as its number one agricultural export. Rice requires a great deal of water for cultivation and harvest. One kilo of rice needs about 3,000 liters of water. The water in the Nile now contains dead fish due to heavy metals from industrial pollution. Using heavily polluted water diminishes crop yields leading to a further strain on resources.

Egypt faces more than just a drop in the quality of water. As a result of the Blue Nile dam that Ethiopia built, Egypt is also concerned about the quantity of water. By building a hydroelectric dam on the Nile upstream from Egypt, Ethiopia is developing a power grid to reach 86 million Ethiopians living without electricity. Consequently, this will divert about a quarter of the Nile’s water away from Egypt. The Nile supplies 85 percent of Egypt’s fresh water. Egypt has the most to lose in the event of armed conflict breaking out because of its water scarcity, so it is now pushing for diplomatic and scientific solutions to the problem. Negotiating with Ethiopia to share in the dam’s benefits and investments in desalination technology is helping to alleviate the water crisis.

The water crisis in the Middle East is serious and requires much work to alleviate the problem. Through the building of better infrastructure, however, Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan should be able to improve.

– Nicholas Smith
Photo: Flickr

What is Food Insecurity?What is Food Insecurity? Food insecurity occurs when a person is consistently unable to get enough food on a day-to-day basis. This epidemic plagues millions across the globe, resulting in malnutrition, chronic hunger and low quality of health. When a person lives with hunger or fear of going hungry, they are considered to be food insecure. It is important to understand why food insecurity happens and what can be done to alleviate it.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity can be broken down into three aspects. The first is food availability, which means having physical access to a food supply on a consistent basis. The second is food access, which means that a person has the resources, such as money, available to obtain and sufficient amount of food. The third is food utilization, which addresses how a person consumes food and whether or not they use the food available to maintain a nutritious diet. It is important to note that proper sanitation and hygiene practices also contribute to food utilization.

On average, more than 9 million people a year die from global food insecurity. Unfortunately, poverty and food insecurity have long gone hand-in-hand because people living in poverty are less likely to have sufficient resources to buy food or produce their own. Families without the resources to escape extreme poverty are likely unable to escape chronic hunger as well. There are several factors contributing to the large number of people who are food insecure.

  1. The steady growth in human population contributes greatly to the increase in food insecurity. With more people on Earth comes more mouths to feed. The rate in which food is grown simply isn’t able to keep up with the projected population growth.
  2. Another contributing cause of food insecurity is the global water crisis. “Widespread over-pumping and irrigation” are leading to a depletion of water sources needed to produce agriculture and produce. Water reserves in many countries have dropped drastically, directly impacting food supplies in these countries and others.
  3. Recent climate extremes and natural disasters also affect food supplies, ruining communities and the agriculture within them. Climate change has impacted crops, forests and water supplies, ultimately spiking prices in areas that are already affected.

The Impact of Food Insecurity

Food insecurity impacts individuals, families and communities far and wide. Although the number of people living with hunger has dropped since the 20th century, there are still more than 800 million people in the world without food security. In developing countries, nearly one in six children is malnourished and poor nutrition accounts for almost half of deaths in children under five. While Asia has the highest population of food insecure people, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence with 25 percent of the population living in hunger.

Food insecurity can lead to many health problems if a person is not getting the nutrients they need. Malnutrition is an issue that can affect all aspects of one’s health. While food insecurity directly impacts all these people, it indirectly impacts the whole population. The problem of food insecurity is a product of behaviors that people do every day, and it has the ability to affect people who may not even know it.

Combatting Food Insecurity

Despite a large number of impending causes, there are still actions that can be taken in daily life to contribute to combating food insecurity. Urging the government to make nutrition programs that emphasize nutrition as a priority is one way to help in the fight. Even if someone is not exposed to food insecurity in their personal life, they can still put pressure on the government to make policies that could help people in developing countries fight this epidemic.

There are also a number of programs and nonprofit organizations that rely on donations and aid in order to make a big difference. The World Food Programme and World Health Organization are two examples of charities that devote time and resources to combating malnutrition and hunger. Donating food to a local food bank or volunteering at one are more hands-on ways to make a difference. Of course, an emphasis on foreign aid and public policy are two of the most impactful ways to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

While the numbers may seem staggering, there has been a 17 percent decrease in global food insecurity since the 1990s, but with awareness and effort, that number could be improved. There is reason to believe that, given the right tools and commitment, global food insecurity could become a more manageable problem in years to come.

Charlotte M. Kriftcher

Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ghana
Situated in West Africa, Ghana is a developing African nation steeped in various cultures and tradition that date far back in history. Ghana faces many of the problems common amongst developing countries including lack of natural resources and a majority of the population that is living in poverty. In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Ghana are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ghana

  1. People in Ghana rely on farming for survival. The country has a population of 25.37 million, and these people are distributed throughout the country’s 10 regions. Out of this number, 68 percent of people live in rural areas whilst the rest occupies the more urban areas. Agriculture accounts for 54 percent of the country’s GDP and for more than 40 percent of income brought in by exports. The country also relies on their agriculture as a major food source which caters for more than 90 percent of the people’s needs.
  2. The dry season in Ghana lasts for four months of the year and in that time, rain ceases to fall and plant growth is therefore limited. Farmers mostly choose not to farm at this time and would rather rely on food they would have stored from the previous harvest.
  3. People in Ghana are steeped in their culture and most of them would rather live in the village than in the towns. The main reasons for moving to towns is to find work and people usually stay strongly linked to their villages of origin. However, life in rural Ghana is quite primitive and there is a scarcity of running water and electricity. People still have to go and fetch water in clay pots from the nearest water source.
  4. In most of rural Ghana, the young girls have to wake up early in the morning before school to go to the nearest river to collect water. The nearest river can sometimes be 30 minutes away and the water collection process has to be done at least four times a day.
  5. Keshia, a Peace Corps volunteer, found a program funded by the U.S. foundation for African Development through a Ghanaian organization called New Energy. It was initiated in a neighboring community and involved a solar-powered filtration unit which provided clean, filtered water. Keshia spoke to New Energy and convinced them to extend the range of the filtered water to the village she was helping. The result is that water now runs in two kilometers long pipes and is reserved in two 10,000 liter tanks.
  6. In a northern region village, the farmers are faced with the challenge of fetching water, making three trips to water one bed in their 20-bed garden plots. The farmers dug wells as a source of water in dry months. Consequently, the task takes two entire days to complete and the men have to sleep overnight at their gardens in order to get the work done.
  7. In another Ghanaian village, there is no cell service and no electricity and the people have to get creative with their means of making a living. With the help of a volunteer, Joe, the villagers tried bee-keeping, palm oil distribution and a moringa project which was the most successful. The moringa leaf can be turned into a powder that fits a growing niche in the U.S. natural and green food market.
  8. Urban Ghana appears to be a much more conducive living environment. There is clean water for 93 percent of the population living in the towns compared to rural areas where only 35 percent of the people have access to clean drinking water. This fact comes as no surprise especially as most villages still rely on the water in nearby rivers. Although different organizations are working in various communities to help the issue, they cannot impact everyone at once and as a result, there are many villages still living without clean water.
  9. Infants and children born in towns are more likely to survive and live a full life than those who live in the villages. There are better medical facilities in the towns that are easily accessible. In comparison, two villages usually share one clinic. Because of the distance and expenses, villagers hardly ever go to the hospital and would rather rely on medical salesmen who sell antibiotics and painkillers on a bicycle to provide medication when they or loved ones are ill.
  10. In the villages, there is far less opportunity for an education and the curriculum is limited with available resources. In urban villages and towns, there are several teachers, concrete school buildings with roofs, desks and chairs. In the rural areas, one or two teachers have to teach in tumble-down huts and leaking thatched roofs. Children have to walk large distances to get to classes that only last a couple of hours and they usually finish only primary education. Only about two-thirds of people in Ghana are literate.

While life in Ghana may seem tough, the continuous work is being done to improve the situation. The organizations such as Peace Corps and U.S. Aid are active in the country and are trying to better the communities. While the people of Ghana enjoy their rural lifestyle, these top 10 facts about Ghana presented above show that this has to change in order for education and poverty reduction to improve.

– Aquillina Ngowera
Photo: Pixabay

wells in Africa
In most developed nations across the globe, water is taken for granted. What is so vital for existence is easily dispensed from numerous faucets in each home.

However, in less developed nations, particularly across Africa, water is much more difficult to come by.  Across the continent, the number of people without access to quality water has increased by 66 million since 1990. Many are forced to spend hours per day collecting heavy water from far away sources. Others use contaminated water that is ridden with bacteria and unsafe for consumption. Still others go without.

Wells in small towns and villages provide an effective way to address issues surrounding proper sanitation and access to high quality drinking water.  Here are five reasons that water wells in Africa are the smart choice for progress and investment.

How Water Wells in Africa Can Solve Water Scarcity

  1. Only 16 percent of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to drinking water through a household faucet. This means that 84 percent must find access to water outside of their home.With the climate being so arid and a very small portion of the population living near the largest water sources, many have very limited access to water. The Congo River Basin holds over 30 percent of the water supply for the whole continent but less than 10 percent of the continent’s people.Coupled with the lack of education surrounding water quality, this creates a dangerous situation for consumption of contaminated water. Wells in Africa can provide a convenient and safe source of water for many of its inhabitants.
  2. Disease from water-borne illness is at a high. For example, in Africa, over two million children die from illnesses brought on due to poor water each year.A startling one in eight people drink water that could potentially kill a human being. Another one in three drink water that is deemed unclean, amassing to 330 million people consuming unsafe water. Kids across the continent miss more than 440 million school days due to water-related diseases.Beyond clean drinking water, the World Health Organization estimated that in 2004, only 59 percent of the world’s population had access to adequate sanitation systems. This lack of hygiene surrounding water usage takes up 50 percent of hospital beds across Africa on any given day, creating costs and using precious resources.
  3. The benefits from a well outweigh the cost. While the cost of wells in Africa varies by location, on average the positive impact that a well has on people’s lives outweighs the building cost.As well as helping to improve living conditions, wells also create positive economic responses. It is estimated that $1 invested in clean water and sanitation yields a $9 return. This is due to the economic stimulation that a well can bring about.This increased productivity stems from fewer sick days taken and more kids, particularly girls, staying in school. Additional money is saved from the lack of hospitalization. While the implementation cost of a well can be high, a single well in Africa can meet the basic daily needs of nearly 2,000 people and last for over 20 years.
  4. Wells can help foster gender equality. It is commonplace for young girls to drop out of school due to a lack of proper sanitation facilities and familial expectations to collect water.With water sources sometimes being several hours each way and jugs weighing up to 40 pounds when filled, water collection is a full-time job. If wells are introduced, girls may have increased opportunity to obtain an education, bolstering their standing within society and contributing to their own prospects and economic prospects at large.
  5. Rural areas continue to face huge barriers to quality water access. While quality water and adequate sanitation are ongoing battles for both rural and urban areas, more people are affected by the issue at the rural level. 84 percent of those who do not have access to a clean water source live in rural areas.Aid and funding do not match this demonstrated need, however, as aid for rural areas is declining and aid for urban areas has increased by 60 percent since 2000. Wells provide an excellent solution for rural areas as a single well can function as a water source for an entire village.

The water crisis in Africa is one that is affecting millions of lives daily. The construction of wells in Africa is a potential solution to an issue that must be dealt with in order to reach a more stable and equal global society.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr


For the past 10 years, the Egyptian government has struggled with figuring out ways to improve their water system in order for water to be accessible and also in order for the water supply to thrive. The U.N. warns that Egypt could run out of the water by 2025. Here are 10 facts about the water crisis in Egypt.

  1. Egypt is suffering from severe water scarcity. Only 20 cubic meters of water per person of internal renewable freshwater resources remain.
  2. Population growth is a massive contributor to the water crisis in Egypt. Since the 1990s, the population has grown by 41 percent. The population is also predicted to grow from 92 million to 110 million by 2025.
  3. Ninety-five percent of the Egyptian population lives within a ten-mile radius of the Nile River. Egypt also controls 90 percent of the Nile River, more than any other country surrounding the Nile. Even with this proximity to the river, two out of five households do not have water.
  4. Human life on the Nile is partially responsible for the water crisis in Egypt. Most pollution comes from municipal and industrial waste. The industrial waste affects the drinkability of the water along with the ecosystems within the water.
  5. Polluted water is being distributed to citizens. Because of the water scarcity, most water is not treated properly, leading to 95.5 percent of the nation drinking poorly sanitized water.
  6. Egypt consists of mostly desert land, with only six percent of land being arable and useful for agriculture. This type of environment leads to the nation only receiving 80 mm of rainfall annually.
  7. Egypt’s poor irrigation system is wasting a majority of the nation’s water sources. Thirty-five percent of underground water leaks through, as caused by the deteriorating infrastructures that haven’t been replaced in the decades since they were first put in place.
  8. In June 2015, the water crisis in Egypt led to the city of Bilquas and its 50,000 inhabitants being without water for an entire week. This type of scarcity leads to an annual state of emergency, where many towns do not have any access to water. The town of Ezbit Al-Taweed also suffered from the water crisis. Every day government trucks of water travel to the city who have no access to water.
  9. Water prices have skyrocketed because of the water crisis in Egypt. Dozens of people wait in lines outside shops and kiosks and the price of a 1.5-litre bottle can jump from three pounds to 10 pounds within a matter of days.
  10. In desperation for water, people have succumbed to illegally digging for water sources in their backyards. Due to the illegality of such digging, the water is not treated, leaving people to drink water infused with high amounts of magnesium, iron, and sodium. This water has been the cause of 13 percent of all child deaths in the country.

For now, water sources in Egypt are still hard to come by. Government officials have announced a plan to replace underground infrastructure within the next decade. Through the hopelessness, this leaves hope for the people of Egypt.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Global Water Crisi
The global water crisis not only hurts women around the world but also hurts economies. Water scarcity affects 2.8 billion people around the world for at least one month each year, and more than 1.2 billion people cannot access clean drinking water.

Matt Damon, who co-founded the charity Water.org, told CNN that he has hope that President Trump could help support the fight against the global water crisis. “For every dollar you invest in this sector, you get back four,” Damon said.

Gary White, Damon’s partner in Water.org, said that many women and girls around the world are unable to obtain an education because they must prioritize carrying water for the survival of their families. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition pointed out that women who focus on education find stable jobs and build economies and markets, which not only benefits them but lifts the world economy as a whole. According to the U.N., women spend about six hours a day in Africa carrying water. Women also do 90 percent of the work of carrying water in Africa.

Water.org gives microloans called WaterCredit to people in developing countries allowing them to invest in water solutions. Water.org in partnership with Stella Artois, a Belgian beer company, started a campaign called “Buy a Lady a Drink”. The campaign focuses on women who have to carry the water instead of going to school. For this campaign, Stella Artois sell chalices and $6.25 from each one sold goes to Water.org.

White said that the global water crisis is worth the attention because the solution is within reach, easy to understand, and could have widespread benefits that will not only lift millions out of poverty, but create opportunities for businesses all over the developed world as well.

Solving the global water crisis not only improves the health of people in developing nations, it improves the global economy.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Papua New Guinea
According to a 2016 report from WaterAid, an international organization that works to improve water quality, sanitation and hygiene to the most vulnerable populations, Papua New Guinea is the worst country in the world in terms of household water access.

There are 4.5 million individuals, 60 percent of the population in Papua New Guinea who lack access to clean water. As a result, 800 children die every year from diarrhea.

In the capital city, Port Moresby, about half of the population live in communities located on precipitous inclines prone to flooding. Many of these areas are outside the perimeter of utility services and far from water mains or sewage pipelines.

WaterAid suggests the vital water source connections will not be constructed for many years. The organization also notes that extreme weather along with rising sea levels contributes to an already precarious water crisis in Papua New Guinea.

Prohibitive costs, The Rakyat Post reports, are a major source of concern with respect to water quality. Poor residents in Port Moresby pay 54 percent of their daily wages to buy water (about 50 liters) from delivery services.

By comparison, an individual living in the U.K. can expect to pay 0.1 percent of their daily earnings for the same amount of water from an official piped supply.

Henry Northover, head of policy for WaterAid told The Guardian that the global water difficulty was not always an issue of limited supply but in many instances a distributional problem. He added that with “clear and coherent” government policies and international intervention the crisis will be remedied.

Overcoming the crisis of water quality worldwide has been and continues to be challenging. Since 1990 advancements have been achieved, as 2.6 billion people now have access to clean water. With major improvements seen in Cambodia, followed by Mali, Laos and Ethiopia.

According to Northover ending the water crisis in Papua New Guinea and worldwide in general and thus availing all individuals worldwide access to clean water is an achievable goal, but he underscored the importance of a “clear, coherent strategy” by governments and an emphasis on water access to take global precedence.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Water_QualityWater quality in the United States is considered to be one of the safest in the world. This is because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards and regulations on the presence and acceptable levels of over 90 different contaminants in public drinking water, including E.coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, metals and disinfection byproducts.

Elevated levels of contaminants like E.coli can cause gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems and neurological disorders in the immunologically comprised, such as infants, the elderly or individuals who are already ill.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also requires every community water supplier to provide an annual Consumer Confidence Report that includes information on the local drinking water quality, any contaminants found in the water supply and how consumers can get involved in protecting and upholding their water quality.

So how do water crises like the Flint water crisis, which drew national media coverage in January of this year, happen?

According to CNN, around two years ago, the state of Michigan decided to switch Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a local river notorious for being filthy. Residents of Flint did not believe the state government would actually go through with the switch, but they did, compromising the quality of drinking water available to the residents of the town.

The Flint River is highly corrosive and eroded the iron water mains as well as the lead service lines leading into residents’ homes, allowing near-toxic levels of iron and lead to enter the water (and the systems of anyone who dared drink the now-brown tap water).

Flint’s water crisis emphasizes the importance of activism at the individual level. Understanding where drinking water comes from and what constitutes good water quality in the United States is important, as is knowing how to contact your local representatives and voice your concerns.

If everyone was better informed about where his or her drinking water comes from, common water contaminants and symptoms of illnesses related to these contaminants, water crises like Flint could be avoided in the future.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Eastern Ukraine
Unrest in Ukraine began in the fall of 2013, when Ukraine did not sign an agreement with the European Union. Students and other young people began engaging in demonstrations and protests in the capital city, Kiev, with the objective of fighting corruption in their country. The situation became more unstable with Russian invasions of the Crimea region and violence against pro-Russian rebels in the Debaltseve region of eastern Ukraine, which continue despite ceasefire agreements. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine were hit particularly hard by the conflicts.

Over the past two years, approximately 6,000 lives have been lost due to fighting, and a further 13,961 have been wounded. 5.2 million are currently living in conflict areas. 978,482 have been internally displaced, including 119,832 children. 600,000 Ukrainian citizens have fled to neighboring countries, with 400,000 escaping to Russia.

While many have left conflict zones, others have stayed for various reasons. They may have feared facing worse dangers if they tried to leave, wanted to protect their family or property or been physically unable to move. Those trapped in conflict zones are often forced to hide away in basements with little food and no heat or electricity. Many are also lacking one very important resource: water.

There is currently a water crisis in Eastern Ukraine that could easily become worse. 1.3 million have been affected, especially in Donetsk and Luhansk. Damaged and destroyed water lines and water shortages have caused suffering for many. In non-government controlled areas of Luhansk, citizens rely on trucks bringing supplies or must travel to neighboring villages for safe drinking water. The city of Mariupol, located in Donsetsk, is relying on a depleting water storage reservoir.

The situation has worsened over the past month due to little rainfall and hot summer temperatures. The risk of waterborne disease will increase if people are unable to properly store and transport water. It is difficult to move supplies across borders between government and non-government controlled areas, which could be due to rebel forces directly preventing the delivery of aid to certain cities. The need is more urgent than ever.

UNICEF is currently helping those in Donetsk and Luhansk access safe water and has assisted 550,000 people since January 2015. 54,000 have also received additional hygiene supplies. However, UNICEF will need to raise significant funds to continue providing these services. Another organization providing aid to Ukraine is United Helping Ukraine. This 100 percent volunteer-based group works on fundraising, raising awareness of the crisis and holding rallies in support of Ukraine’s independence. They also have been distributing food, medical supplies and other donations to families affected by the conflict.

Jane Harkness

Sources: BBC, CNN, Harvard University, Reuters, UNICEF, United Help Ukraine, Voice of America
Photo: Flickr