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Clean Water in Kenya
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is addressing the issue of clean water in Kenya. Currently, 41 percent of Kenyans (19 million people) still lack reliable, safe water sources for drinking water. While on vacation in the Maasai Mara region, Wright witnessed the challenges faced by locals, especially females, when it came to collecting drinking water and decided to start a fundraising campaign with the goal of building two wells in the village he stayed in.

The Global Issue of Clean Water

The availability of clean water has been a major issue across the globe. In July 2010, the United Nations deemed access to clean water and proper sanitation a human right. Yet in 2017, 2.1 billion people still lacked safe drinking water and 4.5 billion did not have sufficient sanitation services. Without safe management of sanitation services and wastewater from cities, businesses and farms, waterways are likely to be polluted. When these water sources are used by community members as drinking water, many health risks arise.

Contaminated water and poor sanitation remain the most common reason for child mortality and are associated with diseases including cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid and polio. By creating the infrastructure for water services, an impoverished community can significantly reduce the number of preventable health issues.

K.J. Wright’s Fundraiser for Wells in Kenya

Clean water infrastructure, however, can be expensive. To build a single well in the village K.J. Wright visited will cost $20,000. In order to adequately cover the expense of two wells, Wright has set a goal of $50,000 for his fundraising campaign. He will personally be donating $300 for every tackle he makes during the football season, which has added up to $1,500 as of November 2018. He has also created an online donation page through Healing Hands International for individuals wishing to support clean water in Kenya.

Women and girls are particularly affected by this problem because water sources are often miles away, and females are usually the ones expected to collect water for the family. Aside from the health impacts of walking great distances daily, the time invested in this chore also prevents many girls from attending school.

Seeing this had a profound effect on Wright. Commenting on his trip to Kenya, Wright said, “I noticed this young girl had dirty brown water. So, I just wanted to help this community. The young ladies have to walk many miles twice a day just to bring back water, and when they do get the water, it’s not even clean. […] I just want to bless this community that blessed me.” By building these two wells, Wright will be helping these young women not only by reducing the time it will take to collect water but also by giving them access to a clean water source.

Changing Lives

Local access to safe drinking water will drastically alter the lives of residents and improve the overall health of the village. Clean water in Kenya is just one example, but celebrity efforts, such as the steps taken by Wright, can have significant positive impacts on impoverished communities.

Fundraising campaigns and advocacy from public figures affect change quickly and can reach diverse audiences that otherwise would not be educated on issues of poverty, clean water, women’s rights and more. Wright plans on returning to Kenya next year and hopefully will continue supporting the world’s poor and inspiring others to take action as well.

– Georgia Orenstein
Photo: Flickr

Right to Water
In July 2010, the United Nations recognized and made a stance that clean water and access to sufficient water is a right for every human being. It has been eight years since the stance was made, and many since have asked: how far has the world come in regards to ensuring better water quality to every human being?

Right to Water

In 2010, there were 2.5 billion people worldwide who didn’t have access to proper sanitation and clean drinking water; eight years later, the figure stands at 2.1 billion people. By no means small, this improvement serves as a positive omen and beginning for a future of continued progress.

But complete improvement in water quality, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen overnight. There are currently at least 2 million people around the world whose water source is contaminated with feces. Although there are many organizations who have stepped up to help those in developing countries regain their right to water, here are three programs and initiatives that have made significant impacts on the current water crisis.

WASH

WASH is a program run by the World Health Organization (WHO) that stands for WHO’s focus on different aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene. The mission of WASH is to provide leadership in water, sanitation and hygiene by making statements, influencing policy and coordinating and collaborating with others.

The services from WASH can reduce healthcare-related infections, increase trust in provided services and increase efficiency in aid provided in healthcare institutions. Today, many facilities lack WASH services — 38 percent don’t have an improved water source, 19 percent don’t have improved sanitation and 35 percent lack water and soap for hand-washing.

The most recent campaign by WASH and WHO — “It’s in your hands. Prevent sepsis in healthcare” — educated others on how quickly sepsis can spread through poor hand hygiene. This education is extremely needed as roughly 30 million people deal with this organ disfunction around the world.

Water.org

Water.org is a non-profit that provides local water projects with local water partners in various countries. One of the key ideas of water.org is to have the communities responsible feel like owners of the specific project. Water.org strives to have the community involved in every aspect of their projects.

Water.org has reached 13 countries, including Honduras. In this nation, water.org reached 14,000 people who are in need of either safe water or improved sanitation. This non-profit is currently working on the construction of a community water system, and health and hygiene education in Honduras. By focusing on these goals, more than 3,600 people in two different Honduras communities will gain access to clean water.

charity: water

Using 100 percent of all public donations to fund water projects, charity: water has funded 28,389 water projects for 8.2 million people around the world. Charity: water’s  efforts have given these people their right to water, and have also funded water programs in 26 countries around the world.

The organization also has a variety of solutions they offer to communities who don’t have access to clean water, including rainwater catchments, water purification systems, hand-dug wells and bio-sand filters.

No matter where or who, good or bad, each person around the world is making some sort of impact on the current water crisis. From littering to pouring cooking oil down the drain, daily actions can have substantial impacts on rivers and waterways in local communities. While there are many organizations that provide funds and support to those without clean water, there are many ways an individual can help with the current water crisis. Here are five ways that water quality can be improved in local communities.

Five Ways to Improve Water Quality

  1. Don’t put anything in storm drains, this includes grass and tree clippings.
  2. Don’t pour grease down drains.
  3. Properly dispose of pet waste.
  4. Appropriately dispose of fluorescent light bulbs and automotive fluids.
  5. Never litter.

It is important for each and every person, no matter where they are, to do their part to maintain safe and clean water, and to always remember that the right to water applies to everyone.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation Facilities in Bhutan
Bhutan has made tremendous strides over the last few decades toward ensuring all people have access to clean and safe drinking water. In 1990, only 72 percent of the population of Bhutan had access to an improved water source and only 67 percent in rural areas. Just over 20 years later, The World Health Organization (WHO), in its 2012 Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) for Bhutan, reported that now 98 percent of the population of Bhutan has access to an improved source of drinking water.

Room for Improvement

Despite these tremendous improvements, 13 percent of childhood deaths in Bhutan are attributed to diarrhea. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 88 percent of diarrhea cases are caused by unclean water or improper sanitation facilities. Likewise, an estimated 30 percent of all health problems reported in rural areas of Bhutan stem at least partially from unsafe drinking water or improper sanitation methods.

Bhutan’s Ministry of Health and the Bhutanese Public Health Engineering Division recognize that a lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities is still a major cause of death and disease. It also recognizes that rural areas are especially in need of better sanitation facilities. In response, improving access to clean water and to high-quality sanitation services has become a priority.

Accessing Sanitation Facilities in Bhutan

Having access to clean water and having access to proper sanitation facilities are intrinsically linked. Sanitation facilities that are not properly containing waste can pollute what otherwise would be a clean source of water. However, data from the WHO indicates a lack of access to sanitation facilities in Bhutan is by far the larger of the two issues. In 2012, when 98 percent of Bhutanese had access to an improved water source, only 47 percent had access to an improved sanitation facility. The problem is especially acute in rural areas, which contain 80 percent of those who lack access to sanitation facilities.

To continue improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities in Bhutan, the government teamed up with UNICEF’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) program and formed the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Program (RSAHP). RSAHP works in rural communities across Bhutan to promote proper hygiene and sanitation practices and to help communities develop improved sanitation facilities.

RSAHP was initially brought to three of Bhutan’s most rural districts. By 2017, all three had improved sanitation coverage by more than 95 percent. Since its inception, the program has now spread to more than 800 rural communities. RSAHP strives to empower these communities by educating people about the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation and helping communities mobilize existing resources and manpower to construct new, effective sanitation facilities.

Importance of Clean Water & Proper Sanitation

Access to clean water prevents numerous diseases, including cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery and dracunculiasis. It is also associated with rates of school attendance for girls and rates of women in the workforce. Without easy access to clean water, many girls and women are forced to spend their time accessing and transporting water and, as such, stop attending school or are unable to work. The progress Bhutan has made toward ensuring access to clean water and modern sanitation facilities will help ensure a better future for all.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Women + Water Alliance
More often than not, consumers find “Made in India” inscribed below the brand label on their clothes. This is a common reminder that India is the fifth largest exporter of apparel to the United States; its garment industry was valued at $3.471 billion in November 2017. But the thriving industry is hindered by a lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene. To improve the incomes and health of the employees in the Indian garment industry, which is comprised of 80 percent women, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Gap Inc. have launched the Women + Water Alliance.

The Need to Support Women

Like other garment exporting countries, India fails to meet basic standards of health, natural resource management and population control. For instance, India contributes close to one-fifth of the world’s freshwater pollution because of the unregulated dyeing of garments. Women and girls, who spend almost 150 million hours collecting water annually, regularly come in contact with dye chemicals present in the water and are most impacted by pollution.

As a result of the contamination, they do not have access to clean, safe water or facilities for the appropriate disposal of hygiene products. WaterAid, an international charity organization, stated that women and girls spend 97 billion hours annually searching for toilets, risking their safety to do so. Women juggle household work with seeking better water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), losing out on the opportunity to remain healthy and earn a steady income.

The Women + Water Alliance

On March 22, 2017, World Water Day, USAID and Gap Inc. launched the Women + Water Alliance. It was created in the hopes of increasing awareness about WASH and improving the stature of women disadvantaged by a lack of access to clean water. The alliance works through Gap Inc.’s existing Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (PACE) program in garment-producing communities. PACE provides women with nearly 80 hours of training on communication and time management skills, designed to increase their efficiency in the industry. It also introduces them to logic and reasoning skills required for decision making and problem-solving, important tools for leadership positions. Adolescent girls are also supported by the program and are equipped with valuable skills needed to build a future for themselves in the garment industry.

Another key aim of the alliance is to support women’s access to WASH services. The approach is gender-sensitive, designed to recognize the different requirements of female sanitary needs. The PACE program also teaches young girls the importance of safe hygiene practices, which is being supported through infrastructural implementation by organizations like CARE and Water.org.

By empowering women through such measures, the Women + Water Alliance is aimed at increasing the number of income earners per household, accelerating their freedom from the poverty trap. When women are educated on the importance of hygiene, they remain healthy for many years. One of the biggest obstacles to breaking out of poverty is when unhealthiness and ailments prevent people from working to earn incomes, and with no income there is no treatment for the condition, leading to an early death without poverty relief. By ensuring better health through increased access to clean water and an understanding of good sanitation practices, this alliance is tackling poverty in a major way.

A Trickle-Down Effect

The Women + Water Alliance treats water as a human right, promoting the message that both men and women should have equal access to it. By reducing the gender inequality in Indian society, women are able to become agents of change and assume positions with more power and decision making. When they are more educated, women will feel like they have an equal position in society, making for an overall healthier community not plagued by feelings of oppression and marginalization. Hence, investing broadly in women’s involvement in the apparel industry can have a local trickle-down effect, where more women aspire to be like the skilled workers in the PACE program and so join the program. This multiplies the intended effect of increased income earners per community.

Clothing is a basic commodity, and supporting the industry behind the brands ensures that more people can rise out of poverty. Tackling access to water is a stepping stone to improving conditions in India and liberating more women, but this would not be possible without American funding.

– Sanjana Subramanian
Photo: Flickr

water, sanitation and hygiene
Undernutrition is a major cause of disease and death that affects millions of people worldwide. A direct cause of undernutrition is disease indirectly related to factors such as contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene. WASH United aims to fulfill the basic human right to clean drinking water and sanitation as recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene the Building Blocks of Global Health

Since 2010, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has been working to improve water, sanitation and hygiene services and practices in more than 100 countries worldwide. Last year, nearly 14 million people were provided with access to clean water and more than 11 million with basic toilets.

WASH is the unified term for water, sanitation and hygiene. Although each is a separate issue, success in one category is dependent on the other. For example, without clean water, basic hygiene is not possible; without toilets, sources of water become polluted. By focusing efforts on these dependent factors, WASH United hopes to increase the awareness of and access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

Water

Each year 800,000 children are killed by diarrhea caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene skills. This is more than the number of children killed by AIDS, malaria and measles combined. UNICEF reports that the risk of diarrhea can be reduced by almost 50 percent by washing hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet. WASH United works to make hand washing a habit for everyone through interactive games and positive messaging.

Sanitation

Worldwide, 2.4 billion people lack access to a hygienic toilet while 946 million have no access to a toilet of any kind. Instead, they use open places in and around their communities such as railroad tracks and ditches. Even with access, there are tens of thousands of toilets in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa that are abandoned and unused. WASH United strives to change attitudes through innovative tools around sanitation and create a demand for toilets. 

Hygiene

A 2013 UNICEF study reported that one out of three girls in South Asia knew nothing about menstruation before starting their period, while 48 percent of girls in Iran and 10 percent of girls in India believed that menstruation is a disease. WASH United aims to educate women about important components of hygiene during menstruation and work closely with communities to motivate positive practices. 

To date, WASH United has reached 500 million people through campaigns and media work and has trained 200,000 children in good WASH behavior. However, there is still work to do. WASH United aims to achieve water, sanitation and hygiene for all people by 2030, and aspires to reach the World Health Assembly global nutrition targets by 2025. These targets include: 

  • A 40 percent reduction in the number of children under five years of age who are stunted
  • A 50 percent reduction of anemia in women of reproductive age
  • A 30 percent reduction of low birth weight
  • Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50 percent
  • Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5 percent

Although there is still much to achieve, WASH United has already impacted the lives of millions. To date, it has reached 500 million people through campaigns and media work and has trained 200,000 children in good water, sanitation and hygiene behavior.

– Anne-Marie Maher
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water and Sanitation
The Sustainable Development Goals, better known as the SDGs, are the United Nations’ pride and joy. The SDGs are a continuation of the previous Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs), but are more inclusive in scope and size.

In 2015, the United Nations came up with “17 goals to transform our world.” The goals cover a lot of ground and aim to reduce poverty and hunger, address inequality, protect the environment and encourage peace among a variety of other things. The United Nations hopes to achieve its goals and this sustainable development agenda by the year 2030.

There is one goal in particular that proves essential to the success of nations with impoverished citizens — SDG #6, ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all is a lofty goal, but a great deal is being done to achieve it. Since the 1990s, strides have been made to improve the quality of drinking water around the world, but 663 million people are still without access.

Additionally, at least 1.8 billion people around the world use a source for drinking water that is in some way fecally contaminated, and 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. These numbers are extremely high and represent a larger portion of the population than those living in extreme poverty.

In the first set of U.N. goals — the MDGs — this goal was not included, thus making it difficult to target aid and progress made in ensuring clean water and sanitation. By including this goal in the SDGs, much more progress has been made since 2015, and creative ways to solve the problem are being developed and implemented around the world.

Very recently, on March 22nd, the United Nations launched the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028. This initiative calls for increased cooperation, partnership and capacity development to achieve all water-related SDGs by the set target year, 2030. This agenda focuses on the importance of water-related goals and will further their progress and solution implementation.

WASH

WASH United is an organization dedicated to solving issues of water and sanitation. The acronym WASH stands for Water, Sanitation and Good Hygiene. The organization and its partners works with primarily children in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to promote proper WASH behaviors.

The organization also focuses heavily on educating girls about proper menstrual hygiene. The organization initiated menstrual hygiene day, which now takes place every 28th of May.

WASH focuses on changing personal attitudes and behaviors related to sanitation for the people it serves. The organization puts an emphasis on working with people and their passions so as to best connect with its advisees emotionally and pass on their message. WASH also does a lot of advocacy work and has helped facilitate national policy changes related to sanitation.

WASH works in tandem with SDG #6, and hopes to achieve clean water and sanitation for all by the year 2030. With WASH and other organizations dedicated to achieving the goal, success seems to be imminent.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

Water Pollution in the Philippines

Water is often equated with life itself. But for an archipelagic region in Southeast Asia sandwiched between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, water pollution in the Philippines has caused this precious resource to be anything but life’s sustenance. According to a report released by the Asian Development Bank, “heavy inorganic pollutants have made water increasingly a threat to life.”

A Threat to Life

The Philippines is a developing country that is also undergoing rapid urbanization and industrialization. Out of more than one hundred million Filipinos, nine million rely on unsafe water supplies. In fact, water pollution in the Philippines and a lack of proper sewage kills 55 people every day.

Katrina Arianne Ebora, part of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program in the Philippines, notes that access to adequate sanitation facilities is a problem for more than 30 million Filipinos.

This portion of the population is forced to spend considerable time, effort and energy in procuring water. Families without a sanitary toilet often face the embarrassment of venturing outside to relieve themselves. Some resort to asking their neighbors to utilize their sanitary toilet facilities.

Environmental group Greenpeace has previously warned that Filipinos in key agricultural areas are drinking water contaminated with nitrates. After conducting a study on important farming areas, Greenpeace warned that nitrate levels were alarmingly above the safety limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The group also noted that “drinking water from 30 percent of all groundwater wells sampled in [the Philippines and Thailand] showed nitrates levels above the WHO safety limit of 50 mg l-1 of nitrate.”

 

Water Shortage

Due to water pollution in the Philippines, the country is likely to face a shortage of water for sanitation, drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes in the next ten years.

In an Asia Development Bank report, the Philippines’ regional group – which includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – has made gains in improving water security. However, the region is home to a sixth of the global population and the poorest people in the world. With agriculture consuming a staggering 80 percent of the region’s water, the region is a global hotspot for water insecurity.

Water conservation efforts in the Philippines by many local and international companies have protected the water supplies for future use. Coca-Cola has pledged nearly $1.4 million for a five-year project with the World Wildlife Fund to protect the capital’s drinking water source, the Ipo Watershed. The Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines, an industry that heavily uses water, has started initiatives to capture and utilize rainwater for many production needs.

Investing in Clean Water

In 2014, Water.org began providing philanthropic and technical support to offset water pollution in the Philippines by expanding its WaterCredit program. Water.org’s statistics show that 75 percent of Filipinos are willing to invest in water and sanitation loans. Between 2015 to 2017, the organization and its partners worked with eight different microfinance institutions to conduct research and training in fulfilling the high demand for clean water and sanitation access.

Experts have a consensus on the water improvement efforts in the country: the Philippines government, environmental action groups, industries and locals need to work together on more initiatives to avert the impending water crisis that may beset the region in the not-so-distant future.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

Togo Charity Works to Help Rural Villages Out of PovertyTogo has struggled to lift its citizens, especially those in rural areas, out of poverty and to ensure adequate access to necessities such as sanitation and drinking water.

A report by the International Monetary Fund found that in 2011, the percent of the rural population that lived below the poverty line was 73.4 percent. In urban areas, the rate was 44.7 percent.

Water Sanitation and Access to Clean Water

Specifically in regards to water sanitation and drinking water, work has been done by various organizations to improve access to these necessities, and as a result, help rural villages out of poverty.

The Water Governance Facility (WGF), backed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), stated on its website that in 2015, 63 percent of Togo’s urban population had access to drinkable water, while in rural areas only 44 percent had access. The same report found that only 11 percent of Togo’s population benefited from water sanitation facilities.

These statistics were reported as part of a larger program called Governance, Advocacy and Leadership in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene that was implemented by the WGF in conjunction with the UNDP from 2014 to 2017.

The Power of Local Aid Groups

However, assistance has also come from organizations closer to home, which strive to help rural villages out of poverty and address its accompanying effects.

Recently, the Togo charity Christian Charity for People in Distress (CCPD) was awarded the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize for the work it has done to help a village of 290 people improve its water sanitation.

CCPD is based in Kpalimé, Togo and was created in April 2004 as a nonprofit Christian charity. The organization’s mission statement declares that its goal is to help rural villages out of poverty by further developing water access, sanitation and hygiene, as well as improving agricultural development, the environment and education.

On its website, CCPD lists four main objectives it seeks to accomplish through its charity work:

  • Protecting the rights of women and children.
  • Assisting the rural population of Togo in obtaining decent education and healthcare, and providing access to drinking water and sanitation.
  • Helping to economically develop rural areas by working alongside farmers to generate more income.
  • Facilitating food self-sufficiency in rural areas of Togo.

Making a Difference

Since 2006, CCPD’s water, sanitation and hygiene programs have aided more than 6,000 people. These programs usually involve the construction of wells, latrines and ECOSAN toilets, which is a waterless toilet designed to save water in countries that do not have water security. In addition, CCPD has worked to help rural villages out of poverty by providing school supplies to primary and secondary school students, aided in the construction of new schools and improved computer skills in adults and children.

The charity is the second African organization to win the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize, which will not only improve sanitation and water conditions, but will also decrease deaths related to illnesses such as cholera that are caused by poor sanitation.

CCPD has been aiding impoverished, rural areas of Togo since its creation, and does far more than just water and sanitation work. The charity’s efforts in regards to education, agricultural development, business development and environmental protection have all impacted communities in Togo and given them the help they need to transition out of poverty.

– Jennifer Jones

Water Quality in TongaSituated in the Pacific Islands, Tonga is among one of several countries in the region to experience water scarcity and quality issues. An island chain of more than 170, Tonga is limited in access to freshwater resources, much of which is sourced directly from groundwater. In addition to groundwater and springs, Tongans collect water from surface resources, which on most islands is extremely difficult to come by. A few different issues are the culprit for scarcity, and subsequently, water quality in Tonga.

One of the primary concerns is the overuse and exploitation of water on larger islands. Tongatapu, one of the most densely populated islands in Tonga, accounts for 69 percent of the total population. Its water consumption rates are continually on the rise.

In addition to poor water use practice, Tonga also experiences poor management with wastewater. All of the wastewater is managed individually rather than through a unified system. The wastewater then becomes the burden of the community: with little to no help from the government, issues with quality and sanitation are unavoidable.

Tonga also lacks water management infrastructure. Water resource use and sanitation center data is currently not nationally exchanged through an organized sharing system, making it difficult to regulate and monitor.

Because there are limited resources to ameliorate these issues, supervision of water quality in Tonga has been taken over by its residents with some supplemental assistance from the Tongan government and the World Health Organization.

In an effort to provide risk assessment and management for villages experiencing poor water conditions, the government has administered a Water Safety Plan. This plan is designed to pay specific attention to the causes of contamination of water supplies. It also considers which measures must be taken to reduce these risks and make improvements to existing water systems.

Communities are urged to take part in these action plans to learn more about their individual water resource systems and identify with the ecosystem that supports them.

In 2009, 10 villages were set up to take part in the Water Safety Plans, and eight more have been added since. The World Health Organization is working to provide training support for the Tongan government to implement the plan further.

Water quality in Tonga is also being tackled by using methods of public outreach and education. The Tonga Trust developed the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in 2008, which works toward changing behaviors of residents and visitors to be more mindful of water use and hygienic practice.

Expected outcomes are for villages to identify their Water Safety Plans, increase the frequency of WASH’s message through media outlets, create posters and manuals in the local language promoting sanitation, establish WASH committees throughout the islands and increase stakeholder involvement.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Good News in Global HealthCholera impacts 2.9 million people each year, killing about 95,000 in some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities of many Asian, African, and some Caribbean countries. The good news in global health is that the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) is bringing together more than 50 partners from academic institutions and nonprofits to reduce cholera by 90 percent by 2030.

This alliance includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, Water Aid and Doctors Without Borders. This plan was released to the public in October 2017 in Geneva.

GTFCC is hosted by the World Health Organization and has begun with a strategy called Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030. This proposal has three strategic axes to make this goal possible.

First, the GTFCC would work to look for early signs of cholera and by sending a quick response in efforts to halt the spread of the disease. Country-level planning would also go into effect for early detection and response.

Second, these partners would improve the Water Sanitation and Hygiene concept, or WASH. The U.N. recognizes WASH as a basic human right. However, more than two billion people worldwide lack access to WASH.

Improving oral vaccines would also be a part of the second plan to end cholera. Between 2013 and 2016, the GTFCC administered five million doses of the cholera vaccine. Gavi is an international vaccination organization focused on children, and it is funding these vaccines.

Lastly, this strategy will be an effective system of coordination for technical support, resource mobilization and partnership at local and global levels. It will work to strengthen donors and international agencies, while locally, partnerships with be strengthened between affected countries.

While this plan will be carried out by all the NGOs and academic institutions, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control will be providing a strong framework for support to ensure this roadmap to ending cholera deaths by 2030 is executed in a timely manner, which is good news in global health.

Lorial Roballo