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Billions of people around the globe lack consistent access to a safe water supply. Currently, over 40% of the world population struggles with water scarcity, and experts predict the situation will only worsen due to population growth and climate issues.  Water scarcity not only impacts a community’s sanitation and health, but also its economy and the education of its people.  Recognizing the gravity of this global issue, organizations like the PepsiCo Foundation have committed themselves to improving the situation.

The PepsiCo Foundation was created in 1962 as the philanthropic branch of PepsiCo. The foundation partners with various nonprofits to invest “in the essential elements of a sustainable food system” in vulnerable regions.  One of the company’s biggest priorities has been addressing water scarcity.  In 2006, the PepsiCo Foundation announced its mission to provide clean water access to 25 million people by 2025.  Already exceeding this goal, the organization is now hoping to extend its efforts to aid 100 million people by 2030.

Partnerships

One of the main ways the PepsiCo Foundation improves global access to water is through financial aid to organizations that do the groundwork in the areas most affected by water scarcity.  Since 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation has given roughly $34 million in grant aid to clean water access programs around the world.  Grant recipients include Water.org, the Safe Water Network, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s AquaFund. PepsiCo’s most notable partnership has been with WaterAid, an international nonprofit that has worked to bring clean water to 25.8 million people since 1981. In 2018, PepsiCo gave $4.2 million to WaterAid.

WaterAid welcomed the partnership saying, “[s]trong public-private partnerships drive scalable and lasting impact, and we are proud to work with PepsiCo to bring clean water to hundreds of thousands of people in need.”

With this grant, WaterAid predicted the PepsiCo Foundation would help to bring clean water access to more than 200,000. Since then, PepsiCo has continued its partnership with WaterAid as the organization pursues projects in Southern India.

Impact in India

India is one of 16 countries that are considered to have extremely high water risk.  Of these countries, India has the highest population. The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid have concentrated the clean water initiatives in India to the rural villages that are plagued by water shortages, hoping to make the greatest impact possible.  In 2019 the organizations worked in three towns—Palakkad, Nelamangala and Sri City—to improve water storage and access.

Since 2016, Palakkad has experienced extreme water shortages, impacting the economy and health of the region.  By August 2019, PepsiCo and WaterAid successfully brought clean water access to the village by building a clean water storage tank.  The partnership also brought 24-hour water access to many families by installing water tap systems into 32 homes.  Similarly, the organizations were able to build 21 tap stands in Sri City.

The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid were able to make a tremendous impact in Nelamangala, India, by bringing water to households and schools.  In addition to installing water storing tanks and tap systems, PepsiCo and WaterAid built rainwater collection systems on several rooftops in the village.  This project brought clean water to 49 families in the Nelamangala. PepsiCo and WaterAid also made clean water supply systems in 18 schools, bringing easy water access to over 5,000 students in the region.

Continued Commitment to Clean Water Access

Through the company’s many projects and grants, PepsiCo has made it clear that the company regards clean water access as one of the most urgent issues the world faces today.  The organization’s renewed goal is to provide 100 million people with clean water supply by 2030. With this goal, it looks like the PepsiCo Foundation will remain committed to improving water access around the world for years to come.

– Mary Kate Langan
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in India
In recent years, India has invested tremendous resources to mitigate its public health pressure, especially with respect to sanitation. The problem of the Ganges catches most eyes, however, uneven distribution of precipitation and demographic density cause issues as well. Due to the lack of appropriate access to clean water and related infrastructures such as toilets, waterborne diseases cost India more in actual societal and economic losses than the average level across the world. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in India.

10 Facts about Sanitation in India

  1. The Ganges River provides water access for around 400 million nearby dwellers, and unfortunately, cities directly inject over three-quarters of untreated sewage into the river. The government approved Namami Genge program has achieved operation of 75 sewage treatment plants, a river surface cleaning action plan and a desire to rejuvenate the river from heavy pollution.
  2. Open defecation and communicable waterborne disease are highly concerning in India. Water relates to 21 percent of diseases in India. Around 99 million people have no access to safe water and 500 children in India each day cannot survive through their fifth year on the earth due to diarrheal disease.
  3. Lack of adequate and appropriate toilets used to contribute to the main reason for open defecation in India. Only 32.7 percent of its rural households previously had access to toilets. This figure has now grown to 98.8 percent as 92 million newly constructed toilets cover most of the rural area. Research suggests that a great decrease is emerging while the coverage rate of toilets is rising.
  4. Mental and societal reasons determine the preference for open defecation. Research suggests that even in rural households with toilets or latrines, some of the household members prefer open defecation because they believe it is more pleasurable and desirable compared to the use of available toilets.
  5. Women’s risk of being sexually assaulted is higher when private and safe toilets are not available. At least 50 percent of sanitation structures remain unused or not used properly. Many women (300 million) have no or limited access to safe bathrooms. In some extreme cases, the problem puts females’ life at stake because of the unfamiliarity of toilet facilities.
  6. Vulnerability against seasonal changes undermines the capacity to provide sanitation in India. In the monsoon season, water treatment plants in low lying basins must shut down to avoid flash floods and power outages, while some water scarcity villages will only use the toilets during this period. In turn, villages cannot maintain sustainable water supply when periodic drought strikes.
  7. Water supply is the cornerstone of the sanitation system, yet the network is incomplete in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, villages are draining unsafe underground water for daily usage, and in cities, poor water management rises the potential pressure for water shortage.
  8. Limited water access in rural regions directly impedes children’s possibility to receive an education. In general, the shortage of water in rural areas gives people the added burden of carrying the water home. Instead of attending school, children are supporting their families with such undesired labor.
  9. The Swachh Bharat (Clean India Mission) contributed incredible achievements. India built about 1.5 million toilets in 2019 and over 100 million toilets during the past 5 years. In total, when the mission completed in October 2019, 60,000 villages were open-defecation free. The Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) coverage reached 100 percent of the state’s households.
  10. Partnership with Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) represents an outstanding international intervention of sanitation improvement in India’s local communities. It secured over $5 million in funding from the private sector. Fueled by this funding, 175,000 people have access to safe water and 25,000 communities are open-defecation free.

Today in India, diseases from untreated water and unhygienic defecation impact society not only through triggering the public health crisis, but also impacting females and children. Limited drainage systems and a lack of water preservation systems are two issues that could prevent India from fully integrating sanitation into rural areas. Fortunately, the Indian government’s campaigns keep sanitation in India on the top of its to-do list. The imperfections cannot overshadow the progress that India has made in promoting its sanitation.

Dingnan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

HYDRO IndustriesWater is essential to life, but unfortunately, there are people all over the world who do not have access to clean water. Pollution, poverty and weak infrastructure are often the causes of a lack of clean water. The world’s poor population has often been obligated to travel great distances in order to get clean water. Dirty water often leads to unsanitary conditions and the spread of disease. Thousands die each year from diseases due to a lack of clean water. Fortunately, a company called HYDRO Industries has a new way to provide water to those in need all over the world.

HYDRO Industries

HYDRO Industries is partnering with BRAC, one of the biggest non-governmental organizations in the world, to bring clean water to Bangladesh. BRAC was founded in Bangladesh, so this is their way of giving back to the community. In Bangladesh, five million people lack access to safe water, and 85 million people do not have access to proper sanitation. The current setup is not working well enough, so a new way to provide water is needed. The two organizations plan to begin their operation in Bangladesh in the spring of 2020.

HYDRO Industries will provide its products and BRAC will use its connections with local communities to establish the water treatment plants. The project aims to help around 25,000 people in the first phase and then continue to improve their product and increase the number of people they are serving. HYDRO hopes to expand all over Bangladesh and neighboring Nepal and India.

How Important is Clean Water?

  • Almost 800 million people do not have access to safe water
  • Two billion people don’t have a good toilet to use
  • A child under five dies every two minutes because of dirty water and poor toilets
  • Every minute a newborn dies because of infections from an unsanitary environment and unsafe water
  • For every $1 invested in clean water, there is a $4 increase in productivity
  • Every day, women around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water
  • Almost 300,000 children under age five die annually from diarrheal diseases

The world’s poor population sometimes has to spend hours looking for clean water. If the water is no longer a worry, they will have more time to be productive and focus on their economy. Clean water also reduces the likelihood of disease. Better health and productivity can result in a better community in the world’s poorest places.

What Does HYDRO Do?

HYDRO is a Welsh tech company that creates innovative water treatment plants that can treat water and raise it to drinking standards. The company also uniquely treats the water. Instead of using chemicals to purify water, they use electric power, which makes the entire process more sustainable and effective than chemical-based purification.

Bangladesh is not the first place that HYDRO is planning on helping. In fact, the organization has already provided clean water to multiple poverty-stricken areas around the world. In 2016, HYDRO provided clean water for 82 East African villages. There the water treatment plants provided locals with 8.5 million liters of water every day.

Finding a new way to provide water to those in need is important to work. HYDRO Industries has an innovative method that could potentially help millions of people around the world. Using electric power, HYDRO’s water treatment units can provide water at levels above western standards. Clean water is such an immense benefit to people all over the world. Clean water helps people fight disease and death. Providing a consistent and clean source of water close to people’s homes makes communities more productive and provides a better chance of reducing poverty.

Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

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