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water quality in Côte d’IvoireCôte d’Ivoire used to be an exception in West Africa, a model for other countries of economic success. Since civil war erupted in the country more than a decade ago, that model has deteriorated and largely rendered a mere dream. Now, the country is in dire straits, especially in regards to the quality and conditions of its water supply. Water quality in Côte d’Ivoire is an issue for a staggering 31 percent of rural areas.

Furthermore, the quality of water that is available leaves much to be desired. The civil war has tremendously damaged the water supply infrastructures, and this coupled with the fact that water is exposed to unsanitary conditions often results in water-borne disease. This is not confined to rural areas either; it affects urban areas as well.

Slightly less than half of Côte d’Ivoire’s population (about eight million people) do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. In rural areas in particular, roughly four million people drink water not safe for consumption. As a result, many die from diseases related to unsafe and unclean drinking water, including children.

This crisis has a domino effect on other aspects of Ivorian society. The lack of access to proper and clean water sources means that a lot of energy and resources must be devoted to obtaining it. This results in many Ivorian girls being forced to forego their education in order to seek and provide water for their families.

This is true even in the capital, Abidjan, where a large influx of people into the capital has strained its inadequate urban infrastructure. The large swathes of people that have moved to Abidjan did so largely because of the civil war and the threat of violence.

In other cities, such as the northern town Dabakala, the wells that previously contained water have completely dried up. This has resulted in residents seeking unsafe and unclean water sources. When water is obtained from such sources, such as creeks, life-threatening diseases such as guinea worm and cholera easily affect those in need of water.

However, there have been campaigns to combat this problem. Efforts made by the Global Nature Fund, for example, have met the needs of Ivorians by repairing water pumps. Within a couple of years, the residents of 44 villages, or around 24,000 Ivorians, were able to access fresh groundwater.

The water quality in Côte d’Ivoire and a lack of it is causing severe crises. These calamities were a result of the outbreak of civil war that has successfully dashed the stability, safety and prosperity of the nation. While some improvement efforts have been made, this crisis will only continue unless serious changes are enacted on an international scale that provide a long-term solution to the water needs of Côte d’Ivoire.

Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in MongoliaBordering Russia and China, Mongolia, the landlocked country in northeast Asia, has been experiencing more severe and frequent effects of climate change. Among several of these issues, water quality and scarcity are at the top of the list. Mongolia’s unique landscape is comprised of sparse rivers, lakes and springs that flow from the wooded northeast, leaving most of the east and south with a desert climate.

Of the population that is just under 3 million, about one-third to one-half reside in the capitol, Ulaanbaatar. The people of Mongolia traditionally practice a nomadic lifestyle.  Second to mineral industries, Mongolians rely heavily on livestock as a major economic driver. Needless to say, water quality in Mongolia has a profound effect on this industry, as well as on the health and well-being of its people. Threats to water supplies exist both in urban and remaining rural communities. A lack of water quality infrastructure has led to contamination of water supplies, and unregulated use has resulted in scarcity in some regions.

In the last few decades, Mongolia has also made a transition to democracy and has introduced a market economy across the nation. Issues have arisen since the adoption of this new system that have directly affected water usage, such as wealth gaps, overgrazing and collapsing value systems and traditions. Desertification, premature melting of permafrost and water pollution have also increased along with the growing effects of climate change. As a consequence of drier rivers in the northern region, many have had to rely on groundwater resources, which made up roughly 80 percent of Mongolia’s water consumption in 2010.

One solution that Mongolia is exploring is a pipeline that would stretch across the steppe that comprises the majority of the country. While this project may ensure more sanitary and abundant water supplies, there has been no advancement on this project due to the high cost and labor burden that it would pose. Although projects like these may be costly and inefficient, it is important that sustainable options are being explored and debated as the water quality in Mongolia continues to decline.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in KenyaWater is one of the most precious necessities that everyone needs. It is essential to sustaining life. Water quality in Kenya is in a poor state and must be improved in order to help its people.

As is known to many already, Kenya has one of the most struggling populations in the world. With a population of 36.6 million and still rising, the country needs water. The lack of quality water in Kenya has been an issue for decades. As a result, agriculture is mostly barren. There is only a small area that is actually sustainable for planting. One of the recent natural disasters that hit the country caused major deterioration in the soil, which caused refugee displacement throughout the country.

Kenya does have natural water resources to provide water; however, it does not provide enough water to various areas of the country. There are also many water basins that do not reach a large enough area. Thus, most of the population the country is left without water. With the increase in urbanization in Kenya, those who are poor are pushed into slums, where they are overcrowded, there is no clean water and the sanitation is at hazardous levels, resulting in horrific health conditions for the people.

With dirty water comes diseases. Water pathogens are a major issue in Kenya. The people are at risk of sporadic epidemics such as cholera and parasitic worms because their basins and pumps are contaminated. Not only are the sources unsatisfactory, the containers in which they carry their were often previously used for oil, fertilizer or waste.

To retrieve water, women and children often have to spend a majority of their day in the hot sun trying to find fresh water. During these journeys, women and children are susceptible to dangers like attacks from predators and exposure to the elements in addition to the diseases from the water.

It seems as though the government would be involved in such a situation; however, there have been problems there as well. There are some areas in Kenya that have been privatized, but other sectors have had investors discouraged from developing the areas. Water privatization is seen as a negative, but without it, many areas do not have piping, sanitation and tanker services. Kenya’s government is nearly bankrupt and lacks the funds to be able to run pumping stations or piping systems. The ones that are built are often pirated and are unable to be repaired.

However, there are groups working to improve water quality in Kenya. Organizations like Water.org are providing safe water and sanitation. They are developing new ways to reach out to banks, digital financial service providers and water service providers to find partners to provide financing. In addition to helping financially, there are organizations on the ground making changes. Charitywater.org has looked into the solutions of hand-dug wells, drilled wells, spring protections and rainwater catchments. These two groups are taking important steps to help improve the situation for Kenya’s people.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in MaldivesThe Maldives—a nation composed of over 1,000 islands and known as a tropical paradise—has a dirty little secret: the world’s largest trash island.

A few miles from the capital city, Malé, an artificial island has been built in order to solve Malé’s trash problem. However, with over 10,000 waste-producing tourists visiting the Maldives each week, the trash island has grown into a pile covering over 124 acres. While tourism has sparked a healthy economy and turned the Maldives into the richest country in South Asia, the industry is consequentially producing an environmental burden with the unsustainable creation of waste. The trash island “grows” nearly one square meter each day. The island—named Thilafushi—is concerning environmental campaigners at an alarming rate.

The waste is brought to the island on ships and taken ashore, then sifted through by hand. While some trash is incinerated, the majority of waste is buried in landfills. As a result, environmentalists are “seeing batteries, asbestos, lead, and other potentially hazardous waste mixed in with the municipal solid wastes being put into the water.” Malé environmentalist, Ali Rilwan, notes, “these wastes are a source of heavy toxic metals and it is an increasingly serious ecological and health problem in the Maldives.”

Some of the reasons Thilafushi is such a big problem are very simple. Firstly, the islands of the Maldives are small, which means so are the freshwater sources. By housing large amounts of waste, water contamination is bound to occur and according to Rilwan, it is occurring. Secondly, because of the small landmass and the large tourism industry, waste is going to be produced and it has to go somewhere. At this point, India is being paid to take some of the waste.

Fortunately, water quality in the Maldives is more of an anticipated problem than it is a present one. According to the U.N. Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water, access to drinking water is high. While water degradation due to salinity and pollution make the access challenging, the U.N. reports over 90 percent of the Maldives do have access.

In response to the call for improved quality, the nation has set forth a number of specific goals, including keeping rural water supplies functioning long-term, improving continuity of urban water supplies and rehabilitating broken public facilities. The Maldives has embraced financing a WASH program, which recognizes drinking water and sanitation as a human right.

The government is active in making the right to drinking water a reality across the islands. After taking notes from the problems of small freshwater resources and the pollution that is seemingly unavoidable as a result of tourism, the government has joined with Aquaver and Stelco—a power company—to address the problem with a new idea: desalination plants.

To better ensure good water quality in the Maldives, the partnership is seeking to build a desalination plant on every island, in order to provide a safe and reliable drinking source that also has an energy-producing capacity which capitalizes on the heat exchanges that occur during the desalination process. The plan includes distribution kiosks with reusable containers. Overall, this would reduce waste and increase access to high-quality water, which directly aids the Maldives in solving two pending problems.

With the government’s careful monitoring and proactive initiative with local businesses, the future for water in the Maldives is looking good. In the recent past, water quality in the Maldives has been a quiet topic, as it brings hidden secrets—such as Thilafushi—into the conversation. However, by revealing what is damaging the water quality and addressing the issues with innovative solutions that grow business, increase safe water access and remove one less piece of trash from the nation’s waste, the future looks nearly as crystal clear as its famous beach waters.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Suny Clean WaterWater is one of the most basic human necessities, yet millions of people lack access to clean drinking water. Fortunately, researchers are coming up with new solutions every day to help create purified drinking water in impoverished countries to help resolve this issue.

Throughout the years there have been many methods implemented to purify water such as heating, distillation and boiling. Researchers at the State University of New York have created a fast and cheap solar still that could potentially provide drinking water to those who currently don’t have access.

The solar still is first set on top of any body of water. After a few minutes, the water that goes inside the still heats up, begins to evaporate and becomes trapped in the clear topping. Once the trapped evaporated water cools down, it is then collected in a vessel free of impurities.

The method itself is not that innovative. Solar stills have been around for thousands of years. What makes the Suny Clean Water solar still different is how efficiently and cheaply it purifies water.

A large number of solar stills use solar nanomaterials on the bottom to collect heat and energy from the sun. Unfortunately, these nanomaterials can end up making the solar still cost up to $200 per square meter. At that price, it cannot be sold in impoverished countries. Not only that, these expensive solar stills do not efficiently use solar energy and can only lead to one liter of water a day. These issues prevent the stills from effectively purifying drinking water in impoverished countries.

Suny Clean Water has found a solution to both of these problems. The biggest issue is the cost of creation. Given that the nanomaterials drive up the price, the researchers looked for a way to bring it down. The solution they found was a black fiber-rich paper, similar to what is used to print money. It functions similarly to the nanomaterials, absorbing sunlight to assist in evaporating the water.

This black material is much cheaper than the nanoparticle. It would only cost about $2 per square meter, which is 1/100th of the price of the nanoparticles per square meter. That low cost could lead to each unit of this solar filter costing only $5 once it is completely put together using the black fiber paper.

Not only is this solar still model cheaper to produce, it is also energy efficient. The Suny Clean Water solar still has 88 percent thermal efficiency to evaporate the water. According to Qiaoqiang Gan, the lead author of the study, that is nearly three times as efficient as natural evaporation. Due to how efficiently water is evaporated, this new solar still can end up providing up to one liter of water an hour.

This new solar still took all the issues that previous stills faced and conquered them. It is cheap and provides water relatively quickly. Currently, it is not commercially available but Suny Clean Water hopes that will soon change. Once it becomes available, creating purified drinking water in impoverished countries will become affordable and easy.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Pixabay

Water Quality in Pakistan
Recent research published in the journal Science Advances has serious implications for up to 60 million Pakistanis—groundwater in the Indus Valley has been found to contain arsenic that likely exceeds a level safe for human consumption. The poor water quality in Pakistan puts many at risk of arsenic poisoning.

The published research comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), which took 1,200 groundwater samples throughout the Indus Plain. Scientists then used this data to create a “hazard map” to determine how many people would be affected by this contamination.

What they found was that 50 million—maybe even 60 million—people would be affected by contaminated groundwater, a number far greater than previously calculated. This estimate was given considering that 60 to 70 percent of the population in Pakistan relies on groundwater.

While the WHO has established that 10 micrograms of arsenic per liter of water is an acceptable concentration, the Pakistani government has always permitted a higher concentration of 50 micrograms per liter.

Although arsenic is naturally present in the ground, researchers suggest that human activities may have exacerbated the amount present in the groundwater in the Indus Plain. Lubna Bukhari, the head of Pakistan’s Council for Research in Water Resources, notes that, due to a lack of regulation, humans have exploited the groundwater, leading to an increase in arsenic.

There are no immediate effects of arsenic poisoning; however, the long-term health effects are severe. Long-term exposure to arsenic-laced water can cause skin lesions, damage to organs and even heart disease and cancer.

A statement by the WHO pressed the need to test “all drinking water wells in the Indus Plain.” With roughly a quarter of the population at risk for arsenic poisoning, the need to address water quality in Pakistan is urgent. Researchers also suggested health intervention programs for those impacted by the contamination.

For those that rely on groundwater for drinking, cooking and farming, the discovery of the contamination could severely impact their livelihoods. The Pakistani government must work to ensure that those impacted by the contamination—no small figure—are offered consumption-worthy alternatives to arsenic-tainted water.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Grenada
Grenada is a developing island nation that resides in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The country is made up of six smaller islands in addition to the main island of Grenada. The country depends heavily on the agricultural sector to maintain its economy. It is well known for its nutmeg and mace crops, which are sold all throughout the world. However, limited access to drinking water has made the water quality in Grenada see a decline in recent years.

The Issue of Water Access In Grenada

Growing periods of dry spells and overuse of water in Grenada has led to dropping groundwater levels. This has allowed the salt water surrounding Grenada to permeate the water layers on the island. The effect of this has been the reduction of the water quality in Grenada. Consequently, this pollution from seawater has made much of the water in the nation unusable for agriculture.

In addition to the continued pollution of the nation’s water supply, rising sea levels have resulted in an erosion of the coasts. Worse yet, hurricanes passing through the region disrupt the agricultural sector and destroy critical infrastructure that the country needs to survive.

Because Grenada depends on tourism and agriculture to maintain its economy, polluted water supply has continued to create negative economic consequences.

Possible Solutions

In conjunction with Germany’s Federal Development Agency (GiZ) and the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the water quality in Grenada has begun to improve. These organizations have partnered up with the government of Grenada to teach locals how to deepen wells and construct more sophisticated irrigation systems to ensure they will have water for the future. All of this work happens alongside education of the locals about preserving water in the water-intensive industry of tourism.

Looking Towards The Future

Although pollution continues to impact many around the world, water quality in Grenada should improve in coming years. With the help of the GiZ and IKI, the government of Grenada has a clear path to address the issue of declining levels of water in their nation. As long as they continue the plan they have created, Grenada is sure to get past this matter they are addressing.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in San MarinoSan Marino, a small republic located in southern Europe, is one of several European microstates. The smallest independent state in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco, San Marino covers only 24 square miles and is landlocked by the Republic of Italy.

San Marino is a large political player in the international community, with diplomatic ties to more than 70 countries. Not only a member of the United Nations and World Health Organization, San Marino is also active in the International Court of Justice, UNESCO, the International Monetary Fund, the International Red Cross Organization, the Council of Europe, and many others. Moreover, although it is not a formal member of the European Union, it has official relations with the multinational entity.

Unsurprisingly, water quality in San Marino is not a cause for concern. Not only does the country have a large tourism industry, but it also has one of the most stable economies in the world and is regarded as one of the wealthiest in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book, San Marino’s GDP per capita was $59,500 in 2016, a growth of 0.5 percent from 2015.

High water quality in San Marino is just one of many factors that contribute to a high quality of life and long lifespan. Statistics from a 2009 World Health Organisation report list the average life expectancy for a newborn male as 81, which has increased since then.

San Marino’s water resources are drawn from one of four rivers, including the San Marino River, the Ausa River, the Fiumicello River and the Marano River. These rivers also play an important role in shaping the geography and political relationships of the country with itsneighborr Italy. The course of the San Marino River, for instance, creates a natural boundary.

The preservation of high water quality in San Marino is rooted in the country’s legal system, which began on October 8, 1600. “Maleficiorum”, the third of six governmental books comprising the country’s constitution, pays special attention to preventing the pollution of water sources.

Today, San Marino’s environmental issues are limited primarily to air pollution and urbanization which has invaded rural farmlands. As environmental policy continues to progress, the focus will largely lie in controlling these areas.

Katherine Wang

Photo: Flickr

Toilet to TapThere are over 750 million people in the world living without access to clean water. Because of this, many people are prone to fecal and bacterial-related diseases. While much of the world has limited access to clean, drinkable water, many countries have implemented a way to recycle and reuse wastewater into safe drinking water. The method is called the “Toilet to Tap” concept.

Countries like Singapore, Namibia, India, Mexico, Europe and the United States have implemented Indirect Potable Reuse and Direct Potable Reuse methods, both of which are used to effectively purify water via the process of reverse osmosis.

Reverse osmosis is a common water purification process. First, the water filters through a dual membrane at least three times. After this, the water goes through a UV light as well as a sub-micron filter to clean out any remaining unwanted particles.

Singapore began the initiative in 1998, known as the NEWater Study, in order to determine how safe recycled wastewater is to drink. According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore specifically uses “secondary sewage water that has undergone stringent purification and treatment processes using advanced dual-membrane and ultra-violet technologies.” Through this process, Singapore supplies at least 80 million liters of clean water per day from each of its three facilities.

Some countries – such as India and Mexico – are new to the Toilet to Tap concept, but they are beginning to integrate it into their infrastructures more. India, through its 2021 Master Plan, has laid the groundwork to begin the recycling of wastewater to be able to supply more to areas that do not have consistent access to clean water.

Access to clean water is vital to ensure public health and economic, social and environmental stability. While there are not currently many countries who reuse wastewater, there are several countries now seeking to implement these Toilet to Tap systems as a way to solve water crises around the world.

Rebekah Covey

Photo: Pixabay

Water Quality in New Zealand

A Brief Background
A series of battles between 1843 and 1872 took place between Britain and the Polynesian Maori living on the island of New Zealand. This culminated in a British victory, marking the beginning of the island’s involvement with Western history. The newly- founded colony gained independence from Britain in 1907. New Zealand then participated in numerous wars alongside Britain until modern day. Currently, the nation has a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Water Quality In New Zealand
The water quality in New Zealand is high when compared to other countries around the world. The rivers, lakes and wetlands provide the environment necessary for a wide variety of plants and animals to flourish. Rural areas today have seen no issues with the water quality.

The urban regions, however, suffer from having a substantially lower water quality when compared to the country’s more rural areas. In recent years, increased land use has caused its water to become increasingly polluted. Another reason for the increased land use concerns the nation’s agricultural sector. The beef and dairy industries in New Zealand have little regulation and companies involved often do not take efforts to ensure its waste does not contaminate local water supplies. This increased land use has disastrous implications for the aquatic life, drinking water supplies and water-based recreation in New Zealand’s economy.

As the water quality in New Zealand continues to decrease, so does the country’s available amount of sanitized drinking water. This negatively impacts the nation’s section of its economy that relies on fresh water.

The Plan For 2040
Prime Minister Bill English has created a new action plan to make 90 percent of the country’s waterways swimmable by 2040. The government hopes to accomplish this goal changing its water quality guidelines. Another method being implemented involves increasing subsidies to farms that are not polluting nearby water sources by $2 billion in the next 23 years.

Overall, the water quality in New Zealand is high in its rural regions; however, in more urban areas, increased land use and environmentally dangerous farming practices have reduced its water quality significantly. Nevertheless, the future looks bright for this country as long as the Prime Minister continues his action plan to improve the quality of water in New Zealand.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Pixabay