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10 Facts About Water Quality in AsiaAsia is a large continent with vastly different cultures and societies, but they seem to suffer from a lot of the same issues. Some common issues are rapid urbanization and lack of infrastructure in rural areas. The most common may be that the water quality in Asia is severely lacking. In fact, Asia’s rivers are three times more contaminated by bacteria from human waste. Here are 10 facts about water quality in Asia.

12 Facts about Water Quality in Asia

  1. The United Nations estimates more than 40 percent of the population in India could be living in megacities by 2030. The stunningly fast urbanization of India is taking a toll on the quality of its water. At least 40 million liters of wastewater enters the waters of India every day. This has made 70 percent of surface water in India unfit for consumption. A World Bank report suggests that this will severely stunt the growth of some areas, cutting its GDP growth by as much as one-third.
  2.  China is going through a water shortage. At least 28,000 Chinese rivers and waterways have dried up over the last 25 years. This issue exacerbates the growing issue of water pollution from industrialization. Government surveys found that 70 percent of China’s water table unfit for human consumption due to the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.
  3. Only 10 percent of Bangladesh homes have consumable water piped to their households. In order to aid Bangladesh in this crisis, The World Bank approved $100 million to be appropriated towards increasing access to improved water supplies. This project will help 600,000 people get water through piped systems.
  4. Groundwater is the Primary Source of Water in South East Asia. A study conducted in 2019 found that 79 percent of people in Southeast Asia use groundwater as their primary source of water. This amounts to a total of 346 million people who rely on that water to be fresh and clean.
  5. Only 30 percent of the population of Mongolia has access to clean piped water. Most Mongolians in the Gobi desert have to use underground water sources. However, rapid urbanization and mining have changed the water supply. Underground water is no longer a reliable source of healthy water.
  6. In Vietnam, 90 percent of urban wastewater is released back into the environment untreated. The Việt Nam Union of Science and Technology Organisations reported that environmental laws in Vietnam have too many loopholes and flaws to be adequate. There are only 29 water treatment stations in big cities, which is reportedly not enough.
  7. At least 80 percent of the Indonesian population lacks access to piped water. The people must rely on river water to meet their needs. Although the river water is not of adequate quality for any kind of healthy use due to many corporations do not comply with government pollution laws.
  8. The abysmal quality of water in Afganistan is due to years of war. The infrastructure of the country has been destroyed with little funds or time to rebuild. This has left only 27 percent of the population of Afganistan with access to high-quality water.
  9. There were at least 118,000 hospitalizations in Iraq’s 2018 crisis due to water contamination. It was reported that at least 40 percent of the sewage from the river Baswa was being dumped into the Shatt al-Arab. The government started posting weekly reports on the water quality online in February 2019.
  10. Nearly all of South Korea has drinkable tap water, but not many drink it. South Korea has impeccable water quality because the government requires yearly reports from all utility providers. However, a survey done in 2013 of 12,000 individuals showed that only about 10 percent drink water straight from the tap.

There is a global effort to improve the water quality of Asia. The South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) is improving the management of the many river basins of Asia. SAWI has addressed issues such as riverbank flooding and the economic opportunities of hydroelectric power on the Brahmaputra Basin in India. It has also supported disaster management on the Sundarbans wetlands shared by Bangladesh and India.

These 10 facts about water quality in Asia demonstrate the many water crises that are happening all across the continent. While there are reforms in place, it will be many years until each country will have equal access to clean, safe water.

Nicholas Pirhalla
Photo: Flickr

Costa Rica bans single use plastics

Costa Rica will become the first country to ban single-use plastics in an effort to meet its goal of eliminating them from the country by 2021. The ban will include straws, cutlery, bags, bottles and cups made from plastic.

Costa Rica has already been a world leader for environmental protection. The country has reversed its deforestation and doubled its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to 52 percent in 2017. However, one-fifth of the country’s 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not disposed of correctly and ends up in the Costa Rican landscape and shoreline.

Costa Rica is not alone in its issue with plastic waste. According to the findings by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2016, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if current consumption and disposal trends continue.

More Than Just an Environmental Impact

This waste harms not only the environment but also Costa Rica’s economy. Tourism and ecotourism are staples in the Costa Rican economy. The country cannot afford the environmental decay not only because they care for the environment but also because a large number of Costa Ricans rely on ecotourism for income.

Costa Rica plans to change how the country uses and disposes of plastics in an effort to help its environment and its people. Because the country’s economy depends largely on tourism, the move to ban single-use plastics will help with job creation and stability in the country as the landscape are improved and more ecotourism opportunities are produced. Citizens will be able to work at national parks, as well as in businesses that have an ecotourism model.

By ensuring the health and stability of its environment, Costa Rica is ensuring that jobs remain and grow. In addition to job security, the health of the country’s people will improve in conjunction with the health of the land. With less air and water pollution there will be fewer harmful chemicals posing a risk to Costa Ricans.

Sustainable Development

The Costa Rican government has made it clear that they believe this single-use plastic ban to be for the benefit of all people, not only for the environment. As a part of their larger Sustainable Development Goals, Costa Rica believes it is necessary to bring balance to all sectors — social, economic and environmental — in order to be a more egalitarian country.

In order to accomplish this, the country will establish a plan to accompany the new legislation. As Costa Rica phases out single-use plastics, the government will have measures in place that protect the people affected by the ban in social and economic ways as well.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, the plan Costa Rica is establishing for the ban of single-use plastics will be one “that cares for people’s health, ensures fair wages and equal opportunities for women and men, while taking care of forests and wetlands.” These are important steps in creating the sustainable balance that Costa Rica strives to achieve.

While this plan is yet to be released, Costa Rica will continue to be caring for impoverished people, providing equality in work between men and women as well as working to significantly better the environment in which its citizens live.

Once Costa Rica bans single-use plastics, they will be an example to the rest of the world for how environmental change can benefit not only the land in which people live but also the people living on the land.

– Savannah Hawley
Photo: Flickr

Water Pollution in China is the Country's Largest Environmental Issue
Half of China’s population cannot access water that is safe for human consumption and two-thirds of China’s rural population relies on tainted water. Water pollution in China is such a problem that there could be “catastrophic consequences for future generations,” according to the World Bank.

China’s water supply has been contaminated by the dumping of toxic human and industrial waste. Pollution-induced algae blooms cause the surface of China’s lakes to turn a bright green, but greater problems may lurk beneath the surface; groundwater in 90 percent of China’s cities is contaminated.

China’s coastal manufacturing belt faces the most pollution. Despite the closure of thousands of pollutant sources, a third of the waterway remains well below the government’s modest standards for water quality. Most of China’s rural areas lack a system to treat wastewater.

Water pollution in China has doubled from what the government originally predicted because the impact of agricultural waste was ignored. Farm fertilizer has largely contributed to water contamination. China’s water sources contain toxic of levels of arsenic, fluorine and sulfates, and pollution has been linked to China’s high rates of liver, stomach and esophageal cancer.

Dabo Guan, a professor at the University of East Anglia in Britain, has been studying scarcity and water pollution in China for years. He believes water pollution to be the biggest environmental issue in China, but the public may be unaware of its impact. Air pollution creates pressure from the public on the government because it is visible every day, but underground water pollution is not visible in the cities, causing it to virtually be forgotten.

Water pollution in China stems from the demand for cheap goods; multinational companies ignore their suppliers’ environmental practices. Although China’s development has lifted many out of poverty, it has also sent many others into disease.

Factories are able to freely discharge their wastewater into lakes and rivers due to poor environmental regulations, weak enforcement and local corruption. Rural villages located near factory complexes rely on the contaminated water for drinking, washing and cooking. These villages have become known as “cancer villages” because of their high rates of cancer and death.

In 2011, Greenpeace launched the Detox campaign to publicize the relationship between multinational companies, their suppliers and water pollution in China. The Detox campaign challenges multinational companies to work with their suppliers to eliminate all instances of hazardous chemicals into water sources. Although combating water pollution in China will require much more work, continued efforts from organizations like the Detox campaign provide a beacon of hope for the future of China’s people and environment.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

water quality in finland pollution
The water quality in Finland was not always known for being astonishingly clean as it is today.

Before Finland earned the name of a country with some of the cleanest tap water in the world, researchers discovered that the water supply was filled with cancer-causing materials. At this time, citizens referred to their tap water as “ugly water.”

Thanks to the panic and uproar that the discovery of this dirty water caused, Finland’s tap water is now ranked among the cleanest in the European Union.

 

Evaluating the Water Quality in Finland

 

Just as in most countries, however, drinking the natural water in Finland is certainly not in anyone’s best interest. With sheep, other forms of livestock, and pulp factories in the area, drinking from downstream is not recommended.

Although Finland’s drinking water is up to par, ecology reports demonstrate that water quality for aquatic life remains questionable.

This is mostly due to the large amounts of agricultural production in Finland, causing nutrient over-growth in lakes and rivers. It is the responsibility of farmers and other individuals to do their part in keeping pollutants out of Finland’s waterways.

Finland is also working to restore pathways for fish in order to help with the recent extinction of migratory fish stocks. These pathways surpass dams in a variety of 20 Finnish waterways.

Water quality in Finland is monitored by researchers in a laboratory that includes water from each individual local treatment plant.

Most of the tap water in Finland originates from Lake Päijänne, traveling 120 km to where the water is then treated in pools and safely dispersed into the homes of locals. The rest of the small portion of tap water recipients are receiving their water from a groundwater plant.

After years of fighting against impure and polluted waters, water quality in Finland ranks among the greatest in the world. That is, as long as individuals refrain from drinking downstream.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr

7 Facts About Water Quality in Mozambique Pollution
Mozambique is a country in southeast Africa with a population of over 27 million people. The country is particularly susceptible to floods, droughts and earthquakes, which are a major hindrance to development. Mozambique is still recovering from a 15-year civil war that began in 1977 after the country gained its independence from Portugal. Listed by Business Insider as the seventh poorest country in the world (GDP per capita: $1,208), Mozambique has extremely limited access to clean water. To better understand the impact of this, here are the leading facts about water quality in Mozambique.

 

7 Facts About Water Quality in Mozambique

 

  1. The life expectancy in Mozambique is 49 years. This relatively low number, compared to 79 in the U.S., is due in part to communicable diseases such as diarrhea that are spread by the poor water quality in Mozambique. A large number of Mozambicans must use unsanitary water for drinking and sanitation.
  2. UNICEF reports that only 49 percent of Mozambicans have access to clean water. The urban areas of Mozambique seem to be faring better than the rural areas, with 80 percent of city inhabitants having access to clean water. Of the rural population, 35 percent have this access, making their situation especially precarious.
  3. UNICEF also reports that two in five Mozambicans defecate in the open due to a shortage of adequate sanitation facilities. Even health facilities and schools, places that should have good access to safe water and sanitation, suffer from this shortage. Just 40 percent of rural schools have safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
  4. Some nonprofit organizations have stepped in to assist with water quality in Mozambique. Among these, UNICEF, WaterAid and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor have had the largest impacts to date.
  5. UNICEF has invested in clean drinking water, restrooms and hand-washing stations for children in schools as well as in improving water quality in small towns and provinces in Mozambique. Thanks to its efforts, 487 elementary schools no longer require students to defecate outside the school, 265,000 people living in rural Mozambique now have improved quality water and 292,000 Mozambicans have better sanitation services.
  6. WaterAid has provided 500,000 people in Mozambique with safe drinking water and 220,000 people with adequate sanitation. This organization credits its success to the introduction of simple yet long-lasting technologies to poor communities. These include rope pumps (a type of deep well) and bathrooms that mix human feces with soil and ash to create compost, which has also helped Mozambicans’ crops.
  7. Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) has created communal restrooms and provided technical support for wastewater treatment systems in poor urban communities, providing 123,000 people with improved sanitation services.

Steps have been taken to improve water quality in Mozambique, but help is still needed in this country to ensure access to basic sanitation for the majority of the country.

Anna V. Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr

water pollution facts
Water is one of the most important natural resources that is essential to sustain every form of life, but it is becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the world. According to the World Economic Forum, rising water pollution is the foremost global risk in terms of its potentially devastating impact on society. Below are ten interesting water pollution facts,

 

Water Pollution Facts

 

  1. One of the prominent causes of water pollution is extensive eutrophication caused by agricultural, sewage, animal, human and industrial runoff, resulting in excessive concentrations of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. This results in enhanced plant and depleted animal life due to lack of oxygen, creating a dead zone. Lakes and reservoirs, two fresh water sources, are particularly prone to the negative impact of eutrophication due to their proximity to pollutant-generating sources and the water’s relative stillness.
  2. Personal care products and pharmaceuticals, including birth control pills, antibiotics and painkillers, are washed into water reservoirs and lakes, contributing to the rising water pollution. They have a damaging effect on the aquatic ecosystems and cause hormonal imbalances in humans and animals.
  3. About two million tons of sewage is dumped into the world’s water bodies daily. Annually, 14 billion pounds of garbage containing mostly plastic is thrown into the world’s oceans, causing large-scale destruction of marine life.
  4. Millions are consuming contaminated or chemically adulterated drinking water due to lack of adequate treatment of urban wastewater. More than 80 percent of human activity generated and about 70 percent of industrial untreated wastewater is dumped into rivers, lakes and oceans. In the U.S. alone, about 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste is discharged into the water bodies.
  5. At least 70 percent of lakes and rivers in China are polluted, and more than half are too polluted for human use. The Yangtze River, China’s largest and the world’s third-largest river, is inundated with approximately 25 billion tons of sewage and industrial refuge.
  6. Many do not have access to clean drinking water, including the 663 million people reliant on precarious sources — with 159 million relying on surface water and 1.8 million dependent on drinking water potentially contaminated with human waste.
  7. Sanitation facilities are a luxury not enjoyed by 2.4 billion people across the globe. Approximately 946 million people are forced to defecate in street gutters and near water bodies, exacerbating the rising water pollution. Wastewater is sometimes used for crop irrigation and at least 10 percent of the population globally consumes food grown using wastewater.
  8. The scarcity of water instinctively causes people to conserve water and avoid its use for hygiene, leading to preventable diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid and polio. Approximately 842,000 people, including 361,000 children under five, die yearly from diarrhea. Contaminated drinking water and inadequate sanitation cause more deaths annually than violence from the ongoing wars. Debilitating diseases including schistosomiasis, intestinal worms and trachoma prevalent in tropical regions are also a result of inadequate sanitation services and hygiene habits.
  9. Currently, about 40 percent of the world’s population is facing water scarcity and 1.7 billion are living in river basins where water usage exceeds renewal. Without immediate action, by 2025 half of the world’s population will be experiencing a water shortage, and by 2050 one in four people will be living in a country with an insufficient fresh water supply.
  10. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set forth by the U.N. to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” by 2030. Reducing water pollution by restricting the disposal of garbage and other hazardous chemicals into water bodies and adapting more effective means of treating wastewater, is part of the SDG’s six targets to ensure equitable access to safe drinking water.

There is ample water for everyone, but these 10 facts about water pollution illustrate how it is becoming scarce due to insufficient infrastructure. Safe, clean water is a human right, yet rising water pollution is a serious health threat for the world’s poorest.

Preeti Yadav

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Guyana
The third smallest South American country came into independence in 1966 after more than 340 years of colonial control by the Dutch, British and French. Slavery and indentured servitude brought immigrants from several continents, giving Guyana one of the most ethnically diverse populations globally. Many ethnic origins are international, and many people choose to leave and live in other countries. Guyana has one of the worst net migration rates in the world as more than 55 percent migrate to find work.

Economy

Sixty percent of the country’s gross domestic product is represented by six exports: sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice. Guyana was once a powerful producer of sugar, yet its production sunk to an all time low in 2014. More recent crop production numbers have shown an improvement. A 2015 submission to the Guyana Sugar Corporation Commission of Inquiry reported reaching 94 percent of productivity goals in the first half of that year.

With somewhat recent estimates stating that 35 percent of the population lives in poverty, Guyana is one of the world’s poorest nations. (2012 Gross National Income (GNI) per capita: $3,410-USD, 2011: $2,900-USD)

Education

Less than 3.5 percent of Guyana’s GDP goes toward education expenditures. Less than 90 percent of people age 15 and over have attended school, and the average school-life expectancy is 10 years.

In its population, 27 percent of which are children under the age of 15,  just 281,000 people use the internet. More than a quarter of the population are without cellular telephones. Of those 199,607 0-14-year-olds, 16 percent are child laborers.

Health

There were 100 HIV/AIDS-related deaths in 2015. With a population of less than 800,000, that number is staggering. In that year there were nearly 8,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in Guyana.

The cause for low numbers of doctors and hospital beds is very low health expenditures. The country has a low life expectancy, 165th in the world at 68.4 percent. This is likely due to the populations’ increased exposure to major infectious diseases like hepatitis A and malaria.

Water supplies are endangered by sewage, chemicals, and well water pollution by salt water from the sea.

Solutions

According to the CIA world factbook, the government remains maligned in sizable debt servitude despite the Inter-American Development Bank canceling more than $450 million of their debt a decade ago. While that brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183 percent in 2006 to 67 percent in 2015, the country sorely needs investments in infrastructure and an influx of skilled workers.

Coordinating with international health organizations to develop research facilities would develop a premier health care network.

Currently, the nation’s largest university focuses mainly on agricultural sciences. While the Pan-American Health Organization maintains an office in the country, working to expand upon that network would prove beneficial.

Developing a health care network on the northern-most coast of South America would aid in fighting infectious disease in Guyana. This creates a need to improve its poor infrastructure and bring skilled medical professionals back into the country.

The focus on improving health conditions in Guyana is the first step toward a stronger economy. Improving health conditions is done by investing more resources, educating physicians and keeping those doctors from emigrating by buying more hospital beds. The possibility of creating an infrastructure around medical research facilities could benefit the region, keep and draw skilled health professionals in and to Guyana.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in Afghanistan pollution

Water is a basic necessity for all life–it must be safe and clean for use. For the people of Afghanistan, water that is safe and clean is especially hard to come by. Fortunately, poor water quality in Afghanistan is a problem that both a global organization and its Afghan partners are working to resolve.

After more than a decade of armed conflict and neglect, Afghanistan has a problem with getting sanitary water to its people. The country of 32.5 million people gets its water from rivers and underground supply, which is reliant on rainfall and snow.

In recent years, climate change has caused a reduction in precipitation, resulting in a drop in water levels of six meters.

Other major obstacles stand in the way of improving the water quality in Afghanistan. Not only is there less water, but the water that is available is contaminated. In most major cities, underground water supplies have been compromised, due to the lack of canalization, proper waste management and proper waste disposal.

In big cities, hospitals commonly bury their waste underground or leave it above ground. Medical waste can contain poisons and infectious inhabitants, seeping into the underground water supply over time.

However, change is underway to improve this dire situation.

 

 

The Improvement of Water Quality in Afghanistan

 

Domestically, the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation has been working for the last 30 years constructing 40,000 clean water posts, with access for one million people. But, the Afghanis cannot do it alone. Much work is still to be done to meet all water needs in Afghanistan.

External help is underway from GIZ, a German company that specializes in developing solutions to global problems. With the backing of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ is making great strides.

In collaboration with the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation, GIZ has developed and is implementing a massive plan to decentralize and overhaul the Afghani water infrastructure. They will work with and train Afghani workers to complete the project and independently maintain it, also creating a sanitation and management program for water in Afghanistan.

Between 2011 and 2013, GIZ trained around 2,000 employees from the institutions involved. As a result, they are now able to better perform the work necessary improve water quality in Afghanistan.

Now that the workforce has been trained, substantial progress is being seen.

From 2007 to 2013, the number of households with a newly connected water supply in Kunduz, a major city in northeastern Afghanistan, rose from 370 to 7,700. This represents about 75 percent of Kunduz’s population. Kunduz is only one example of a trend spreading around the country.

Currently, newly constructed water infrastructure is not only becoming self-sufficient, but also now has the ability to self-fund more growth. In 2012, the Afghani government introduced a water tariff, which significantly increased the income of the water infrastructure. In some cities, Afghanis are willing and able to pay for their new access to clean water.

Since then, in the major cities of Kabul, Harat and Kunduz, the proportion of water that is paid for has risen greatly. As a result, the cities of Herat, Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif have built and are operating six new wastewater plants. Big change is taking place for the better.

Not long ago, the majority of Afghanis were desperate for clean water. Today, with the help and intervention of Germany, the major components that led to the water problem in Afghanistan are on the way to being improved. The work being done is changing lives, communities and cities across Afghanistan.

Steven Jenkins

Photo: Flickr

Polluted Rio Waters Could be a Problem for 2016 Olympians

Results from the extended testing of the Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic waterways could pose a threat to 2016 Olympic athletes.

A five-month, independent Associated Press (AP) study of each waterway where Olympians would be in contact with the water provided disturbing results. According to the AP, the study found “dangerously high levels of disease-causing viruses from human sewage at all water venues for next year’s games, with an expert’s risk assessment saying it was an almost certainty athletes would be infected by viruses, regardless of their sport, be it rowing, swimming or sailing.”

This test looked for multiple strains of human adenovirus, enterovirus and rotovirus, among other viruses and bacteria. All these can lead to “stomach and respiratory ailments that would easily knock an athlete out of competition,” according to the study.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been pushing for further bacterial testing in Rio’s waterways. Bruce Gordon, the WHO’s coordinator of water, sanitation, hygiene and health said that viral and bacterial testing “would be advisable.”

“There is massive contamination and it is sad to see on the news,” Gordon said. “The WHO does not want to see people get sick, whether they are athletes or residents.”

During a recent press conference, International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission Head Nawal El Moutawakel and Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi were asked if they would swim in Rio’s water. They both laughed enthusiastically at the question.

“The WHO absolutely cares about viral pathogens,” Gordon said. “”Viral pathogens can absolutely be assumed to be in water that is impacted by sewage. We know it will be there.”

Alexander Jones

Sources: AP, Brooks, South China Morning Post
Photo: Force Change