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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

How-To-Make-Water-Drinkable
One of the biggest issues in many developing nations with regards to poverty is the lack of necessary resources. One such resource that many impoverished people lack is safe and sustainable drinking water.

Though most countries seem to have plenty of water sources, many of these are not safe for people. This means they are not safe not only to drink but to bathe in, as many people do in poor and underdeveloped nations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has done studies that have shown that only approximately 59 percent of the world’s population has access to safe drinking water. WHO also has stated that it is proven that having adequate and sustainable water resources has prevented the outbreak and spread of disease. This means that the other 41 percent of the global population without safe drinking water are not only without a resource necessary for the sustenance of life, but are also at risk for the outbreak and spread of dangerous diseases.

For example, unsafe and contaminated water sources are responsible for the increasingly rampant spread of dangerous diseases in Africa, especially amongst young children and the elderly. Although just over half of the world has access to safe drinking water, only about 16 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to such a resource.

This issue revolves around a number of flaws in the maintenance of water filtration systems in poorer countries in Africa. It is also attributed to a lack of education for the people in what they should consider safe drinking water, the potential risks of drinking from unsafe sources and how to get access to safer water.

How to make water drinkable:

Despite the flaws in the system, there are a number of actions being taken by NGOs and charity organizations as an effort to end such problems with such an essential resource. For example, The Water Project is a nonprofit organization that works with communities in sub-Saharan Africa to create sustainable and safe water filtration systems. This includes not only building infrastructure that would physically yield more drinking water, but also educating the people of the region in safer habits and smarter financial practices that would make these efforts have a more long-term impact.

It is through organizations and programs such as these and smarter maintenance of innovative systems by the states themselves in underdeveloped and developing nations that will make sustainable water resources something that 100 percent of the world’s population will soon have access to.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: The Water Project, World Health Organization
Photo: IKKUMA

water_in_Tanzania
Earlier this week, Tanzanian government officials vowed to improve water access and sanitation conditions for its millions of citizens residing in urban and rural areas.

Conditions in the country have become extensively dire since the end of the past century. The Tanzanian government intends to establish either a water fund or agency through legislation that it believes will be brought to the government’s House by next year.

Climate change is not helping the problem. The Great Ruaha River has consistently experienced dry spells since the late 1990s. In fact, since the dry spells began, the population along the river basin has doubled from 3 to 6 million inhabitants.

Currently, only 40 percent of Tanzanians have access to clean water. The government hopes that percentage will jump to 75 percent by next year with additional funding for water programs in rural areas.

While a lack of accessible clean water in Tanzania causes health concerns, including diarrhea, cholera and typhoid, the lack of water throughout the country has created problems for farmers and businesses. Inadequate water supplies continue to generate crop shortages and failures.

While water shortages remain a problem, the vast majority of Tanzanians do not have access to sanitation. Critics have argued that the government does not spend enough on water and sanitation facilities given the country’s large and increasing population.

For years, the government has not possessed the necessary funds to improve the problem. Coupled with indifferent and at times uninterested community leaders, the country continues to experience hardships at a local and national level. Numerous towns and cities throughout the country are in need of new water infrastructure and repairs to existing equipment. A 1997 report estimated that an equivalent of 620 million U.S. dollars was required to fix the problem.

Fortunately for Tanzanians, the government has started to begin work on water projects with the intention to provide water for rural and urban communities. It is thought that educating Tanzanians about sanitation and safe water principles may help to alleviate the problem.

Yet, part of the challenge involves getting local community leaders to be both engaged and trained to help oversee the individual projects. Many local leaders lack an adequate knowledge about the water infrastructure.

However, the government intends to train and educate the communities about the projects, some of which has already begun. Observers believe that through a coordinated effort among the government, local leaders and Tanzanians, the country can make a difference in improving sanitation conditions and water in Tanzania.

Ethan Safran

Sources: All Africa 1, All Africa 2, All Africa 3, All Africa 4, All Africa 5, All Africa 6, The Guardian
Photo: Africa 6000 International

water_crisis_sub_saharan
Water is a necessary means for survival. Water covers two-thirds of planet Earth. The human body consists of 75 percent water. Water is involved in all bodily functions including digestion, respiration, maintaining body temperature, and adequate performance of all bodily functions. Early civilizations developed around easily accessible clean drinking water sources. Water is vital to life; that is a given. But what if accessing clean drinking water was not as easy as turning on the faucet, or opening a bottle of Dasani? The continuing water crisis in sub-Saharan Africa proves that this kind of access is not always so easy.

Water scarcity is a tragic reality for many regions of the world. Astoundingly, 85 percent of the world’s people live in the driest regions of the world. According to UN Water, 783 million world citizens do not have access to clean water. Among that demographic, 6 to 8 million die every year from water related disasters and diseases. Incredibly, in the year 2000, 2.4 billion people lacked access to water sanitation, and 1.1 billion lacked access to fresh water sources. The populations suffering the most are in rural, poor areas of the world.

The most common water related diseases occur due to lack of sanitation. According to Dr. Lee Jong-wook, Director General at World Health Organization (WHO), “Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health,” and refers to water and sanitation as “Health 101.” Jong-Wook further explains that if communities secure access to water and sanitation, “a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won.” Two of the deadliest water and sanitation related diseases are diarrhea and malaria.

According to data by World Health Organization, the four driving factors in the water and sanitation crisis are: access to water supply and sanitation, sanitation gap, emergencies and disasters, and water resources.

The sanitation gap refers to an increase in population growth combined with low sanitation development growth. The number of people with access to hygienic sanitation facilities, such as toilets and hand washing tools, has declined slightly since the 1990s because construction cannot keep up with population growth.

Floods and drought are the most dangerous water-related disasters. Flooding causes contamination of drinking water, and destructed systems of hygiene and wastewater. Droughts cause the most death because they can initiate malnutrition and deny the community a water supply. 66 percent of people dwelling in sub-Saharan Africa live in areas of little to no rainfall which often results in failed vegetation and agricultural efforts. More than 300 to 800 sub-Saharan Africans live in a water-scarce location.

Water resource development is the key to helping world citizens fulfill the basic human right of accessing clean water. As former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated, “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.”

– Laura Reinacher

Sources: Rights to Water and Sanitation, UNICEF, UN Water
Photo: Because water

Karachi_Water_USAID
As a part of the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Power Distribution Program, the agency is currently helping Karachi Water and Sewage Board to improve water supply for the 21 million inhabitants of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city. The Power Distribution Program is a 5 year, $60 million project to improve electric power utilities across Pakistan.

Karachi currently uses a 20-year old system of pumping stations that pump water from filtration plants into the city, but are extremely energy inefficient. The pumps use huge amounts of electricity from the grid, creating expensive electricity bills for the city, and providing less water to its citizens. Some areas of the city are unable to access water several times a month, simply because the pumps are unable to provide enough for the entire city.

The new pumps installed by USAID will be modern, and highly efficient. 41 out of 75 new pumps have already been installed, and the rest are expected to be completed by the end of September. The electric efficiency rate before the new pumps was at an average of 29 percent, but the new pumps will boost that to 55-65 percent, decreasing the city’s energy cost by $1.15 million per annum. All residents of Karachi will now be able to access water on a regular basis. In addition to saving energy and providing more water, the new pumps will save time and money spent on daily maintenance for the pumps.

In addition to improving the water systems in Karachi, the Power Distribution Program is also working directly with Pakistan’s government owned power distribution companies to increase their efficiency by introducing new technologies, training in human resources management and customer service, and creating legal and political space for the companies to operate.

– Emma McKay

Sources: PDIP, Daily Times