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Hungarian Water Pollution CrisisHungary, a landlocked country in Central Europe, ranks among the highest poverty rates in Europe. Nearly 33% of Hungary’s 10 million inhabitants are at risk of complete poverty if they forgo just three months of income. Hungarians with lower income disproportionally face many struggles, including obtaining affordable water. The Hungarian water pollution crisis affects everyone within the country, especially those in poverty, but water sanitation has thankfully seen improvements in recent years. However, there is still a dire need to increase efforts in order to achieve clean water for all.

The Danube River

Because of its landlocked status, Hungary’s primary source of water comes from the Danube River. This groundwater provides water for 90% of the Hungarian population. Additionally, this river basin covers nearly 10% of Europe and extends to 19 countries, providing 80 million people with water. Its water is used for drinking, energy, production, agriculture and transport. Those near Danube River rely heavily on it as a vital resource, but it’s currently not safe to do so. The river poses a threat to those whose utilize it due to the large presence of pollutants.

The river is contaminated with a variety of harmful substances: organic pollution, nutrient pollution, hazardous substance pollution and microbial pollution. The main factor causing this pollution in untreated wastewater. Corporations often have inadequates processes and facilities to properly treat water before releasing into the river basin. The untreated water then flows into villages and smaller cities that typically don’t have the means to purify the water to a safe level. These dangerous conditions make the water unsuitable for consumption, but Hungarians largely have no other options for obtaining water. Aid is needed to bring clean and drinkable water to all Hungarians, especially to those in poverty and in rural areas.

GEOInsight’s Technology for Water Pollution

The Hungarian start-up GEOInsight works to analyze data in a useful and digestible way. Its mission is to find data showcasing areas with heavily polluted water and use absorbents to treat those areas. These absorbents are ecological machines that measure the amount of waste and remove the micropollutants. GEOInsight focuses its efforts on natural adsorbents in water as a way to fight against water pollution.

Hungary’s government as well as the industries dispelling the wastewater can utilize GEOInsight to combat the water pollution in Hungary. GEOInsight can aid these organizations in understanding the data behind the polluted water. GEOInsight can also work with the organizations to help figure out what question needs to be asked in order to solve this water crisis. In addition, GEOInsight can help to create solutions for the problem. To specifically combat the Hungarian water pollution crisis, GEOInsight began developing technologies to detect micropollutants. The organization’s technologies more accurately remove pesticides better than conventional wastewater treatments.

Earlier this year, the start-up partnered with the water waste management company in Hungary, Hungary’s Department of Aquaculture and UTB Envirotec. GEOInsight, through its mission and partnerships, aims to solve the Hungarian water pollution crisis that increases the dangers of thousands of Hungarians on the brink of total poverty.

Hungary’s Partnerships For Progress

Hungary has been striving to clean its water system in a multifaceted approach. Since 2009, Hungary has funded research that seeks solutions to decontaminating the Danube River. It has even looked beyond its borders to try to fix the Hungarian water pollution crisis. Hungary partners with Slovakia to coordinate water quality, Romania to coordinate environmental risks and with the Czech Republic to coordinate energy priority. These intergovernmental measures are vital in the fight for water safety as are the local companies. With continued focus, advocacy and policies directed toward clean water and water accessibility for all, the Hungarian water crisis can finally be put to an end.

Vanessa Morales
Photo: Flickr

Water Purification Technology in India
India has one of the highest poverty rates in the world, with more than two-thirds of its population living in extreme rural poverty. Although India has one of the fastest-growing economies, millions remain confined to impoverished villages and slums. To exacerbate the issue, 163 million Indian residents have long been plagued with an inability to access safe drinking water. Recently, new technologies and regulations have been put into place to improve water standards in the region and prevent the transmission of several waterborne diseases. Here are three ways that water purification technology in India is saving lives.

3 Ways Water Purification Technology in India is Saving Lives

  1. Low-cost water purifiers: India is a top contender for the clean water market. In recent years, residents in India now have more readily available access to low-cost point-of-use water purifiers. These purifiers make use of technologies like nano-filtration, ultra-filtration and ultraviolet systems to ensure cleaner water for their users. Commercial companies such as Havells and Tata, the major manufacturers of these water purifiers, specifically target the 75% of the rural population that lives in poverty. These communities often have little to no access to clean water. Most notably, Tata’s Tata Swach only costs around 21 dollars and can function without electricity or running water. The device is effective and sustainable, able to support a family of five for up to 200 days.
  2. Large-scale water purification: Unclean and unpurified water in India has led to the spread of cholera, diarrhea, malaria and typhoid, among others. Indeed, waterborne diseases affect more than 37 million Indian natives and kill more than 1 million children per year. The problem owes itself to fluoride contamination that disproportionately affects rural populations in the country. However, efforts of water purification on a larger scale have begun to turn the tide. Research estimates from India’s Central Bureau of Health Intelligence report that more than 85% of the country has water infrastructures in place today. Furthermore, the transmission of certain waterborne diseases has maintained a relatively similar level as in past years due in large part to such changes.
  3. Efforts to ensure water safety: India’s water supply remains largely unchecked and free of governmental oversight. Only around 30% of dirty water from Indian cities is properly treated; the rest often seeps into the ground and contaminates other groundwater sources. Fortunately, NGOs like WaterAid India have taken matters into their own hands to ensure equal access to safe water in several rural regions of the country. They have expanded into areas of Bihar, Delhi, Jal Chaupal and Jharkhand, providing each site with water testing toolkits, pond sand filters and water ATMs.

Water purification technology in India is just beginning to bloom into a concerted effort to increase standards of living and elevate rural life to a higher level. Moving forward, the work of NGOs like WaterAid India must continue; however, the government must also make water safety a priority of its efforts. This will help ensure that India is able to provide more equitable livelihoods for all its citizens in the future.

Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Clean Drinking Water in the PhilippinesAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking, with people in rural areas with limited infrastructure being mostly affected. Within the Philippines, this concept manifests in that 91% of the country’s estimated 100.7 million population have access to basic water services, but access is highly inequitable across the country, with regional basic water services access ranging from 62% to 100%. To combat water insecurity, government bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and independent parties have collaborated to ensure that all citizens have access to clean drinking water in the Philippines.

The Philippine Clean Water Act

In 2004, the government passed the Philippine Clean Water Act which aims to protect water bodies from pollution and monitor their safety. This was implemented through multiple boards of governors and local mayors who were given specific water sources to monitor and maintain. By localizing management, the government found that leaders were more driven to clean their water because it affected their personal community. In addition, this strategy hinged upon community involvement as well, which led to a greater public awareness of water sanitation. In other countries with a similar problem, this localized strategy could work to create a body of legislators invested in water access, which would lead to cleaner water overall.

Hydropanel Fields

Water sanitizing technology has also been instrumental in guaranteeing access to all populations in the Philippines, specifically the rural ones. For the indigenous people of Palawan, the lack of clean drinking water is due to their lack of access to city centers and infrastructure. SOURCE Global and Conservation International collaborated to create a field of hydropanels that will create 40,000 liters of clean drinking water each year. Because the hydropanels are portable and easy to assemble, they can theoretically be used anywhere in the world. This opens up possibilities globally for communities with inadequate drinking water access. Going forward, this model could be used to eradicate water insecurity.

Water.org

Another influential NGO has been Water.org, which provides no-interest loans to families trying to gain access to clean water in their homes. These loans are used to rig homes with plumbing as well as build wells. The organization is unique in that it addresses the economic issues associated with a lack of clean water. Without clean water, families contract diseases at higher rates, which limits their ability to work and earn an income. In addition, because these illnesses tend to affect children at higher proportions, access to clean water means a chance for education. Water.org’s belief is that by providing rural communities with their own funding, the people in that community will be able to build themselves up independently and ensure a legacy of success. As of now, the goal of the organization is to help the government in the Philippines reach its goal of access to clean drinking water for all by 2028.

Other Organizations for Water Access

Two other notable NGOs are DAI and Clean Water International. Both of these organizations work globally to ensure all people have access to clean water. In the Philippines, DAI specifically works to improve sanitation techniques. This has been accomplished through infrastructure projects that transport water in safer ways as well as education campaigns that teach communities how to check if the water is clean and how to clean it properly. Similar to this, Clean Water International has worked to increase sanitation. Both of these organizations maintain that proper sanitation is essential to access to clean water and have provided the funds to create proper water sanitation.

Access to Clean Drinking Water

Without access to clean water, communities are barred from work opportunities, exposed to disease and experience the effects of poverty at higher proportions. As seen in the Philippines, a multi-faceted and robust approach is needed to address this crisis and it requires the cooperation of all. The problem of lack of access to clean drinking water in the Philippines cannot be addressed simply by giving communities water bottles. It must be a ground-up approach that gives communities the tools to create and access clean water for years to come.

– Mary Buffaloe
Photo: Flickr

Water poverty in NigeriaWater poverty in Nigeria is still a pressing issue today. Only 30% of northern Nigeria’s population can access safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities. The subsequent use of unclean water leads to the spreading of waterborne diseases such as cholera, guinea worm and hepatitis. The lack of water has impaired the livelihoods of farmers and led to a lower enrollment rate at schools, especially with girls. However, the situation is not without aid.

The History of Water Poverty in Nigeria

Since 1995, Nigerians have benefitted from WaterAid, a charity organization that has established a multitude of water and sanitation projects. The organization works through partnerships with local government authorities, civil society groups and state agencies to implement its programs. The projects have led to progress in development plans and data collection efforts that have increased clean water supply and access to safe toilets.

WaterAid has worked to improve water poverty in Nigeria by implementing its services in over 100 of Nigeria’s poorest communities, which include:

  • Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, where safe tap water is only acquired by 7% of the population.
  • Bauchi State where fewer than 50% of its people can access safe water and sanitation.

  • Benue State where most streams are contaminated.

  • Ekiti State where the main source of domestic water is pre-packaged water sachets and water vendors during the dry season.

  • Jigawa State where waterborne diseases are common.

  • Plateau State where most households rely on an unsafe water supply from government sources.

WaterAid, along with government support, has provided over three million Nigerians with clean water, hygiene and sanitation.

The Data4WASH Programme

The Abuja-based nonprofit Media for Community Change and US-based NGO BLI Global have a similar goal of eliminating water poverty in Nigeria. On August 27, 2020, they formed a partnership to launch The Data4WASH Programme. The program consists of an interactive online platform that accumulates data and maps GPS coordinates. It then creates a map that water-impoverished communities can utilize to advocate for themselves.

Through the map, empirical and widespread evidence can prove the need for adequate investment in the design and installation of clean water and sanitation facilities. Additionally, the program empowers civil society by involving them in the national initiative to improve water poverty in Nigeria. The map encourages people to identify and report water-deficient and poorly sanitized areas in their communities. For instance, final year students from The Department of Statistics at the University of Ibadan will participate in the data collection process.

COVID-19

The Data4WASH Programme has been especially valuable after COVID-19 disrupted Nigeria’s progress in alleviating water poverty. According to WaterAid, 60 million Nigerians lack access to a clean water supply and services, and 150 million people lack basic hand-washing facilities with soap and water.

By enhancing data collecting processes, Nigeria can fortify its most vulnerable communities and health care systems to withstand the present detriments of COVID-19. Further, it can institutionally protect against potential health threats in the future. These measures established by The Data4WASH Programme’s interactive map system would also satisfy The U.N.’s Global Goal 6 — “clean water and sanitation access for all, including safe and affordable drinking water.”

Locally crafted, community-driven initiatives like The Data4WASH Programme and intergovernmental organizations are vital to ending global poverty. One sets guidelines and the other provides outlets that encourage entrepreneurship. The two must work together to end water poverty in Nigeria and all around the world.

Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

The One WaSH National ProgrammeGlobally, at least 2 billion people do not have access to clean water. The ability to access clean water supplies and sanitation is a vital aspect of a country’s development. Improved water supply and sanitation positively affect economic growth and poverty reduction as water is essential domestically and agriculturally. Furthermore, clean water and sanitation are imperative to human health. Contaminated water can cause diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid. The issue of clean water is present worldwide and demands preventative action. Thankfully, the One WaSH National Programme is here to help.

Ethiopia is one country where the water crisis needs to be addressed. Close to 33 million people in Ethiopia lack access to a safe water supply and nearly 89 million don’t have access to basic sanitation. This lack of access is responsible for 90% of diarrheal disease occurrences, which is a leading cause of child mortality in Ethiopia. To fight this, the Ethiopian government along with partners developed the One WaSH National Programme in 2013. The goal was to drastically improve access to safe water and sanitation services throughout the country.

The ONE WaSH National Programme

The One WaSH National Programme aims to improve the health and well-being of communities in rural and urban areas. Their strategy to achieve this is to increase equal and sustainable access to clean water supplies, sanitation services and good hygiene practices. As explained by the IRC, “It combines a comprehensive range of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions that include capital investments to extend first-time access to water and sanitation, as well as investments, focused on developing the enabling environment, building capacity, ensuring the sustainability of service delivery, and behavioral change. It has rural, urban, institutional WaSH and capacity building components.”

Impacts of The Programme

Phase one of The One WaSH National Programme in Ethiopia began in October 2013 and lasted till July 2017. It boasted great results. In four years, 18.7 million people gained access to water supplies and the practice of open defecation reduced from 44% to 29%. Additionally, 1,280 school WASH facilities were constructed.

The One WaSH National Programme approved its second phase in 2018. This time, the overall growth and transformation of the program was the main target for improvement. Another objective was to diminish vulnerable infrastructure in drought-prone areas in Ethiopia. Doing so would create a climate-resilient water supply system that provides the community with safe and sustainable access to water. Results for this second phase are still being collected as it was expected to run through July 2020.

The Importance of Clean Water in Poverty Reduction

Access to basic water and sanitation are vital parts to improving the economy. As such, it is essential for eradicating poverty. Many health issues faced by the poor arise because of the consumption of contaminated water. Increased availability of basic water and sanitation services can aid in general public health and assist in reducing health care costs.

The ONE WaSH National Programme has not completely satisfied their goals of extending safe water supply to 98% of the country’s rural population and 100% of city dwellers. Nevertheless, they have made many great strides toward improving sanitation services. Overall, the program has contributed significantly toward improving the standard of living within these Ethiopian communities.

The ONE WaSH National Programme and similar endeavors have the power to greatly improved the population’s access to a safe water supply and reduce poverty in Ethiopia and worldwide.

Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

apps improving access to clean waterThe United Nation’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal is devoted to enhancing clean water and sanitation. Specifically, it calls for equitable access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for all by 2030. However, nearly one-third of the global population lacks access to clean drinking water. Some companies are making solutions to this problem in the form of apps improving access to clean water.

The Problem

The World Health Organization defines safe water as 20 liters per person per day of accessible, clean drinking water within one kilometer of a household or business. Without safe water, families must spend more time caring for sick loved ones and fetching water from far-away sources. This often prevents them from joining the workforce and earning an income. Businesses and schools that are unable to provide safe water often struggle to retain staff and students. Overall, communities without safe water are more susceptible to illnesses and destruction from natural disasters. Indeed, diarrheal diseases stemming from unsafe water usage and poor sanitation kills nearly 1,000 children per day.

Thankfully, technological innovation for accessing clean water is on the rise. New technological solutions range from fog-to-water conversion systems to easy-to-use water filters. Below are three apps improving access to clean water by collecting, harnessing and sharing important water systems data around the world.

mWater

John Feighery, a former NASA employee, and his wife Annie Feighery created mWater in the mid-2000s for Android devices. After working for a company testing well water in El Salvador, Mr. Feighery learned that the process of testing for clean water was cumbersome and expensive. He collected samples with heavy machinery, transported them to a far-away lab for testing and recorded locations by hand. Mr. Feighery decided he could simplify the process using technology he used with the International Space Station.

He and his wife created mWater, which records the results and precise locations of water quality tests on a mobile device. Anyone with the app can view the data. Users can add pictures and write notes on scent and appearance. Additionally, they can add data from new tests they’ve conducted using the $10 water testing kit available from the app.

With its global water quality database and expedited process of identifying safe water, mWater is one of the most comprehensive apps improving access to clean water. Today, more than 75,000 governments, NGOs, health workers and researchers use mWater for free in 180 countries. They include UN-Habitat, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and The Water Project. Altogether, mWater receives and records 250,000 water surveys per month for public use.

Akvo Flow

One of the few apps improving access to clean water is Akvo Flow. Peter van der Linde and Jeroen van der Sommen founded Akvo Flow after meeting at the World Water Week conference, in Stockholm. They wanted to improve the way that water quality data was presented via open-source technology. This allows governments and organizations to better address the issue of finding safe water. Akvo works with users to design projects, capture meaningful data, understand the data and act to improve conditions. To date, Akvo has implemented software in 70 countries by working with more than 20 governments and 200 organizations.

It aims to increase accountability, transparency and productivity for each partner organizations. Akvo Flow does this by streamlining the data collection process, which allows for quicker decision making. Some of its partnerships include setting up a sanitation monitoring system in Mauritania and working with Water for People in Peru to design solutions. Additionally, it works with UNICEF and the Ministry of Water Resources to test water quality nationwide in Sierra Leone.

Open Water Data

As the name suggests, Open Water Data makes water data available to the public. Founded in 2017 by a group of software engineers and data scientists from Datameet, Open Water Data only applies to India, where it is based. Extreme flooding followed by water-source depletion in India led the group to question the country’s water management systems. They found that the public is unable to access much of India’s water data, despite the fact that local governments need extensive data to implement water management systems.

In response, the founders created an easy-to-use map-based web app with available data from Google’s Earth Engine. It includes datasets from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Now, the app is one of a few improving access to clean water. It is a one-stop-shop for information on daily rainfall, soil moisture, groundwater and reservoir shortages. Researchers and local governments can create simple models in water-scarce regions and plan for flood mitigation using Open Water Data’s tools. Additionally, plans are in place to create a database that all parties can contribute to.

The Future of Apps Improving Access to Clean Water

In July 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed concern about the progress of Sustainable Development Goal 6. Specifically, he cited climate change, pollution and increasing demand as obstacles. If clean water and sanitation remain problems in 2030, global health, education and climate change will suffer. These apps improving access to clean water through data management are just one way that technology can crowdsource solutions to the global water crisis.

McKenna Black
Photo: Flickr

Afghanistan’s population of 36 million has suffered violent conflict in recent history. According to the UN, the scarcity of water in Afghanistan remains the greatest obstacle blocking its path to national stability. Here are five things to know about water in Afghanistan.

5 Things to Know About Water in Afghanistan

  1. Afghanistan’s instability has brought more than war to the people who live there. According to the United Nations, the worst result of the political unrest and lack of sound government in Afghanistan is lack of water accessibility. A reported 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces currently suffer from drought. Only 67% of people have access to safe drinking water.
  2. Most people in Afghanistan do not have access to proper sanitation. Only 43% of people in Afghanistan have access to safely managed sanitation, meaning citizens must be separated from contact with human waste. Diarrhoeal diseases, caused by poor sanitation, are the second most frequent cause of death for children under five years old, with a mortality rate of six out of 1,000 live births.
  3. Afghanistan has enough water for all of its people. The nation’s five prominent basins have the potential to provide around 3,063 cubic meters of water per capita. Therefore, the problem lies not with water availability but the government’s capacity to distribute it to the people. The government uses less than 60% of the water in four out of those five basins. The constant and destructive war seen recently in Afghanistan has largely destroyed the country’s water management system.
  4. Glacial depletion has contributed greatly to these problems. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush mountain range have long provided the majority of Afghanistan’s water. Due to rising average temperatures, however, these glaciers face depletion. Estimates predict that the Hindu Kush glaciers will lose 36% of their mass by the year 2100, initially causing destructive flooding and eventually leading to further drought. Afghanistan has also recently seen a 62% drop in precipitation. The Ministry of Water and Energy has identified glacier depletion as the cause of its troubles.
  5. Despite these challenges, organizations are stepping in to help. UNICEF has named open defecation and a severe lack of water distribution in impoverished regions as major contributors to Afghanistan’s sanitation problem. The organization aims to eliminate open defecation by 2025 through public education about building and using latrines to keep people healthy. UNICEF has also helped the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development implement a water supply project to reconstruct the nation’s water systems. USAID has stepped in as well to impact the situation. With the help of USAID, 1.5 million people received drinking water access between 2008 and 2017 and 200,000 people received improved sanitation between 2008 and 2017.

While access to water and sanitation remains a major issue in Afghanistan, the situation is improving. UNICEF reports that in 2017, almost 300,000 people in Afghanistan gained clean water access. The percentage of people in Afghanistan practicing open defecation dropped from 26.2% to 12.74% between 2000 and 2017. Since then, the efforts of organizations such as UNICEF and USAID continue to make a positive impact on sanitation and water in Afghanistan. 

– Will Sikich
Photo: Flickr

facts about sanitation in ChadChad is a country highly dependent on agriculture with two-thirds of the population employed in such a capacity. For agriculture to thrive, water must be plentiful. However, for Chad, ensuring access to adequate water supplies has and continues to be a challenge. Additionally, the citizenry at large suffers from a lack of sanitized water, which increases the danger of disease transmission. Here are 6 facts about sanitation and access to water in Chad.

6 Facts About Sanitation in Chad

  1. Basic water services: In 2019, 61% of Chad’s population lacked access to basic water services. Many had to obtain drinking water from an improved source like a well or piped water.
  2. Open defecation: 69% of Chad’s population practices open defecation, a result of Chad being the country with the largest percentage of its population without access to a toilet. Among the poorest Chadians, access to toilets improved by 7% between 2000 and 2017. However, 88% of them still practice open defecation.
  3. Hand washing: Chad is one of 19 countries where more than 50% of the population does not have a handwashing facility. Additionally, 76% of Chad’s people have no handwashing facility in their home. This is especially salient today since the World Health Organization recommends hand hygiene as “the most effective single measure to reduce the spread of infections”.
  4. Lake Chad: This body of water borders Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad and supports the existence of 30 million people. This economically important source of water, however, has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s. For communities reliant on fishing, farming and herding, a diminishing Lake Chad translates into resource constraints and sometimes conflict.
  5. Refugee crisis: Conflict caused by Boko Haram and other insurgent groups in the region has displaced thousands of Chadians and others. For example, in Kobiteye, a refugee camp bordering the Central African Republic, 24,000 refugees live without adequate access to water.
  6. Lethality: The inability to consume clean water is costly, taking the lives of thousands in Chad. A U.N. report found children under five in conflict-affected states were “more than 20 times more likely to die” from unsafe water or lack of sanitation than from the conflict itself.

Solutions

In response to Chad’s water crisis, some organizations and governments have stepped up assistance. In 2019, World Vision Chad redirected 70% of its funding to providing safe water access. They reached 18,000 displaced refugees with 45 boreholes. A few years ago, USAID dug 113 wells that reached 35,000 people since 2008.

Other organizations are focusing on leveraging technology to improve water access. Chad’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation partnered to fund the ResEau project, a 10-year 3D mapping initiative designed to improve borehole drilling. Before ResEau began, boreholes successfully reached water 30 to 40% of the time. Now, boreholes successfully reach water over 60 percent of the time.

Additionally, ResEau also contributed to creating a master’s degree program in Hydrology and GIS at the University of N’Djamena in Chad. This program has benefited more than 100 students so far, many of whom work for Chad’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation. Leapfrog, the 3D technology company that ResEau used for its geological modeling, stated that the project “will enrich the livelihood of all those who live in Chad, by providing the skills and knowledge needed for a robust integrated water management system”. Steps like these represent successes that individual donors and donor governments need to build upon.

– Jonathan Helton 
Photo: Flickr

Adequate sanitation and toilets are basic necessities that ensure and promote the health of people in developing countries. The importance of sanitation and toilets lies in helping reduce the spread of diseases. Sanitation systems aim to protect health by providing and promoting a clean environment.

Developing countries face challenges in accessing sanitation and hygiene care. The CDC states that hundreds of millions of people do not have access to adequate clean drinking water and that over one million deaths are a result of diseases transmitted via unclean water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. Access to soap is an importance of hygiene, and often a challenge in availability for developing countries. The CDC offers an effective hand washing station within communities in need of proper hygiene. Known as Tippy Taps, these stations use less water and soap than other means of hand washing.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is approaching the importance of sanitation and toilets by partnering with several organizations to reduce water-borne diseases. The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene initiative aims to reduce disease and improve lives by looking closely at communities and governments to understand their environment and what is suitable for providing hygiene and water. The Gates Foundation also supports establishing an end to open defecation and upgrading latrines in order to encourage people to practice good hygiene as well as increasing the demand for sanitation.

The World Bank is addressing the importance of sanitation and toilets through the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiative, which assesses the relationship between poverty and hygiene to properly develop methods in bringing hygiene and water. The World Bank found that the effects of unsafe drinking water and lack of proper hygiene result in various other health issues, such as child stunting. WASH, in coordination with other organizations, works to provide appropriate services. The WASH program aims to reduce childhood mortality via investing clean water access to rural communities.

Shedding light on the importance of sanitation and toilets can lead to proposing and establishing sustainable sanitation for communities with no access to sanitation. The disparities of hygiene access need to be addressed to ensure the health of communities and generations to come.

– Jennifer Serrato

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in GuatemalaWater quality in Guatemala has become an increasingly important issue because the country is facing one of its worst droughts in decades. The drought has reduced access to clean water, and poor water quality has resulted in the spread of waterborne illnesses throughout the country. Additionally, this lack of water means immense food shortages and increasing malnutrition among children in Guatemala.

Approximately 43 percent of Guatemalan children under the age of five are fatally malnourished, and among rural Guatemalan children this number rises to around 80 percent. It is in rural areas that the drought has the strongest effect, as there is less access to clean water and there are more stagnant bodies of water that increase the spread of disease.

Due to the drought, Guatemala’s disposal of solid and liquid waste in local bodies of water is having a larger impact than ever. With limited quantities of clean water, the waste that is deposited in rivers makes the spread of disease and infection in the population even more rampant. Access to clean water is a major issue facing the country, but there have been some strides in resolving it.

Guatemala was able to reduce the percentage of citizens without access to drinking water to 50 percent, which met the 2015 Millennium Development Goal for access to clean water. In 2016, 93 percent of Guatemalans had access to non-polluted water, which is an impressive statistic.

There are also nonprofit organizations working to improve water quality in Guatemala. Water for People is an organization that focuses on providing clean water to certain communities in impoverished nations. They currently have a number of projects running in Guatemala, one of which is the Everyone Forever program. The program pledges to provide water and sanitation to every single person in those communities, forever. This is a very ambitious project, but it is also incredibly important.

In addition to simply providing clean water to those in Santa Cruz Del Quiche, or San Bartolome Jocotenago, Water for People creates a model that can be replicated by governments to provide water and sanitation for all parts of the nation. The organization also has programs for watershed management and school programming related to water sanitation.

There are also, of course, programs set in place by United Nations agencies such as the Pan American Health Organization, UNDP, and UNICEF. These organizations put in place measures that will raise the living conditions of people in poor communities, primarily through improving water sanitation systems.

Ultimately, water quality in Guatemala is a major issue, but there are improvements being made. Through collaboration between NGOs, the Guatemalan government and United Nations agencies, the issue of water quality and access in the country will hopefully be resolved soon, improving the quality of life for all of its residents.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr