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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

COVID-19 in Nigeria
Nigeria is located on the western coast of the African continent. Home to more than 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. The nation is no stranger to diseases: a dense population, frequent travelers and the Ebola outbreak have impacted thousands. Although the government successfully contained the Ebola outbreak, similar action was not taken to deal with COVID-19. As COVID-19 surges, several global humanitarian organizations are working with Nigeria’s government to combat the virus. Here are four organizations fighting COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been actively involved in projects promoting health and safety in Africa for years. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the WHO helped contain the virus in Nigeria. Recently, the organization has shifted its focus to COVID-19. In early June, the WHO recognized a lack of COVID-19 testing in many of the country’s rural communities. In response, the organization planned to educate health officials and community members on the pandemic’s severity.

The WHO has since been working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to conduct country-wide testing and sample collection. The two organizations are now locating and mapping at-risk communities to better coordinate treatments and procedures.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) is a food-assistance branch of the United Nations. The WFP has been especially active in recent months, combatting the food insecurity accompanying economic hardships caused by COVID-19. The program has also established and deployed food assistance task forces to reach the country’s remote communities.

Throughout the pandemic, WFP has assisted more than 715,000 of its targeted 890,000 beneficiaries. The organization continues to offer life-saving food assistance to Nigerians while providing valuable education about sanitation and safety measures.

WaterAid

WaterAid is a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization focused on providing clean water and promoting hygiene and sanitation across the globe. Amidst COVID-19, WaterAid has been collaborating with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources to incorporate clean water resources and hygienic behaviors into communities across the country.

The organization is placing an emphasis on implementing routine hand-washing practices using clean water. WaterAid is also working to educate Nigerians about the importance of staying hygienic and sanitized to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.

The World Bank

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides countries with loans and financial services. Its current work involves collaborating with the Nigerian government to monitor and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s socioeconomic health. The World Bank is also working to determine the amount of financial aid the country requires to adequately address the pandemic. The organization has initiated a household survey called the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey to assist in this endeavor.

In early March, the World Bank prepared initial financial packages of up to $12 billion to assist more than 60 countries heavily affected by COVID-19. Such financial packages have helped countries like Nigeria strengthen their healthcare systems and reduce the damage to the economy. The $12 billion funding includes contributions from various facilities within the World Bank, including International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

When Nigeria’s first cases of COVID-19 emerged, international humanitarian and financial organizations quickly prioritized containment. While COVID-19 in Nigeria continues surging, organizations like the World Health Organization, World Food Programme, WaterAid and the World Bank Group have stepped in to support the country. As these organizations work to promote hygiene and offer treatment, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Nigeria continues to decrease and ultimately brings hope to the nation.

– Omer Syed
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor, is a small nation located in the expansive seas of Southeast Asia. As one of the youngest countries in the world today, it holds its fair share of successes and problems. Homelessness in Timor-Leste is one of these problems, which is an issue common in many countries.

Homelessness in Timor-Leste is unique due to the several social, historical and political factors contributing to housing insecurity in this country. Though organizations such as UNICEF and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) have implemented efforts to combat this quandary, much work still remains in order to eradicate homelessness. Listed below are eight facts about homelessness in Timor-Leste.

8 Facts About Homelessness in Timor-Leste

  1. Timor-Leste separated from Indonesia in 2002, making it the first country to gain independence in the 21st century. With this, the country had much to sacrifice. In 2006, factional fighting within Timor-Leste resulted in the loss of many lives and left as many as 150,000 citizens homeless.
  2. During the fight for independence, Timor-Leste faced many challenges in regard to housing security. In 1999, military turmoil caused the destruction of nearly 70% of the nation’s housing stock (approximately 85,000 houses). Though UNTAET was able to provide temporary shelters for displaced individuals, the government continuously struggled to fund and reconstruct housing to satisfy this high demand for permanent residences.
  3. Internal military conflict has also contributed to the displacement of individuals from their homes. By April 2008, the sporadic conflicts (including arson/looting) in the capital, Dili, had resulted in several thousands of people leaving their homes in fear of violence. A third of these displaced individuals remained in humanitarian camps within Dili, while the remaining people moved to rural districts.
  4. The effects of the 2006 crisis are longstanding. Between 1999 and 2013, the Timorese government and various NGOs/humanitarian organizations have helped move 92,000 displaced individuals into secure housing. Thousands still face uncertain futures in 80 resettlement camps across the country. As of 2015, approximately 22,000 individuals still reside in four main camps in the country and lack access to secure housing.
  5. Timor-Leste had vastly improved its policies in its initial response to the housing crisis. In December 2007, the government created a national recovery strategy, Hamutuk Hari’I Futuru (Together Building the Future), in order to overcome the 2006 displacement crisis. This allowed citizens to claim a $4,500 recovery grant to fix damages on their property. The government also offered transitional shelter to those who were open to temporary relocation. Overall, this strategy was fairly effective. By 2008, 28 camps in Dili closed.
  6. As of 2008, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Timorese government had built 667 transitional shelters. This offer improved living conditions and facilities (i.e. electricity, cooking facilities, etc.) previously unavailable at camps. Sanitary conditions also significantly improved. Though still prone to flooding/landslides, these shelters overall lessened possible disease outbreaks and vulnerabilities in displaced populations.
  7. By 2012, CARE and WaterAid implemented the MAKA’AS (Mudansa Klimatica iha Ambiente Seguru – Climate Change in a Secure Environment). This project aimed to improve resilience against the effects of environmental challenges for six villages in the Liquiça District of Timor-Leste. This allowed individuals to improve access to safe drinking water, improve sanitation in their homes and implement land management practices to reduce landslide risks/housing vulnerability. Between July 2012 and March 2015, this project had helped 1,525 households within the district.
  8. National poverty in Timor-Leste rate has declined from 50.4% in 2007 to 41.8% in 2014. Nationwide improvements to accessing basic needs, education and healthcare resources have allowed Timor-Leste to tackle poverty and homelessness at a faster rate than many other countries. In homes, electricity connection has jumped to 36% in 2007 to 72% in 2014. In this time, child education has also jumped from 58% to 83%. Since 2008, there have been continuous improvements in nationwide living standards due to changes in public policy and foreign aid.

As shown these facts show, the housing predicament in Timor-Leste is extremely complex and difficult to resolve quickly. While the Timorese government and various humanitarian organizations have made multiple commendable efforts to combat homelessness in the country, the issue requires more work.

The displacement of many individuals from their original homes has caused countless land and property disputes. Resolving these issues requires a sophisticated legal framework. Moreover, many displaced individuals lack secure work opportunities as well as access to basic health and social services.

While the displaced individuals remain strong and resilient through these times, additional legal, social and infrastructural changes must occur to provide long-term solutions to homelessness in Timor-Leste. Nevertheless, throughout the past 10 years, this country has made promising improvements in living standards for its citizens.

Vanna Figueroa
Photo: Flickr

Water Disparities in NigeriaIn Nigeria, clean water does not always receive treatment as a public good available to everyone. Instead, access to clean water depends on the neighborhood a person lives in. As a result, the dangers of waterborne diseases affect low-income areas disproportionately. Additionally, clean water is a privilege pertaining to socioeconomic status rather than the public good it should be. Water disparities in Nigeria often affect those who need the most help.

The Problem of Water Contamination

Adriel Garrick, who grew up in Nigeria, knows about water inequality. Garrick told The Borgen Project that “When [she] was young [she] had a friend diagnosed with Typhoid,” an infection that drinking contaminated drinking water or food causes.  She also said that “[Her] friend did not know he was drinking polluted water, and he was in the hospital for about three weeks, then later passed away.”

Death from water contamination is not unusual. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, as of 2015, 42.7% of Nigeria’s rural population and 19.2% of its urban population lacked clean, reliable drinking water. Diarrheal diseases, usually from contaminated drinking water, are the fifth leading cause of death in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s rural population is in a worse situation than the urban population for one reason: wealth. Wealth is a massive determinant of who gets clean drinking water there.

Water Supply System in Nigeria

According to Chidozie Nnaji, a researcher at the University of Nigeria, Nigeria does not treat drinking water as a social right. “The government provides water for the highly placed and charges them peanuts, but the same gesture is hardly extended to the generality of the masses who have to provide (purchase) their own water,” Nnaji told The Borgen Project. “Water is perceived as a social right for the highly placed, but as an economic good for the rest of the people. What an irony!”

Nigeria has a privatized water supply, contributing to disparities between the access of the wealthy and the poor. “Privatized water supply in developing countries is known for little infrastructure investments, neglecting low-income areas, and prioritizing profit over service quality,” Ismaila Rimi Abubakar, an associate professor at the University of Dammam, told The Borgen Project.

Not only can privatized water add to economic disparities, but it is also often unhealthy. Water vending is not a sustainable solution, according to Abubakar.

“Water vending is supposed to be a stop-gap solution to water outages or for households not yet connected to piped water supply,” said Abubakar. “Water vendors have now become the primary source of water for numerous households, . . . they should not be allowed as a long-term solution. . . . Water vendors and packaged water are expensive and not free from contamination.”

UNICEF’s Solution to Clean Water

The United Nations Children’s Fund has been working with the Nigerian government since 2005 to implement the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. The program aims to provide clean water to all of Nigeria and implement hygiene education and sanitation facilities. WaterAid is a global federation of nonprofits. It has an initiative working with the Nigerian government to provide clean water and sanitation to families who need it most.

Safe, clean water is a necessity for all people, not a privilege. Given the disparities in access to clean water in different economic sectors, it is clear that Nigeria is experiencing a crisis that will not be resolved until the country as a whole is able to claim clean water and the physical health that depends upon this resource as an essential human right.

Sophia Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Improving Water Sanitation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.4 million people die annually from water-related diseases. These illnesses disproportionately affect children, making up 90% of the 2.2 million deaths that diarrhea causes every year. Trachoma, another condition that unclean water causes, is the leading cause of preventable acute blindness across the world. Simple filtration mechanisms can prevent all of these water-related diseases. Yet, the world’s poor lack access to the life-saving filtration devices available in other parts of the world, leaving them with high numbers of water-borne diseases. New technologies improving water sanitation are reaching the impoverished and saving new lives each day. Here are four innovative technologies helping to guarantee clean water for all.

4 Technologies Improving Water Sanitation in Developing Countries

  1. The Drinkable Book. The effect of The Drinkable Book is two-fold. First, it provides vital water sanitation information to readers in the developing world who would not otherwise receive such education. Second, the pages of the book themselves act as water filters. These filters are incredibly effective, removing 99.9% of all bacteria to make water safe to drink. The books have experienced distribution across Haiti, India and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. One book can produce 5,000 liters of clean drinking water to users, or enough to last up to four years.
  2. Fog Catchers. The Morocco-based nonprofit Dar Si Hmad has developed a revolutionary new technology that improves water sanitation by harvesting water from fog. The device consists of large nets built on the sides of mountains that collect moisture from the air and store it for later use. Dar Si Hmad has intentionally involved women in the organization and maintenance of the project in order to provide a holistic community impact. The new technology can produce up to 6,300 liters of water per day and has garnered attention from international investors across the world.
  3. Livinguard Water Filter. The India-based company Livinguard developed an innovative way to fight water-related diseases in India and across the world. The Livinguard water filter has a design suitable for remote locations and depends only on gravity to function. The installation process takes under three hours and the filter lasts up to seven years, making it reliable easy to use. The Livinguard filter uses microscopic knives rather than potentially hazardous chemicals to provide safe drinking water for consumers.
  4. Ceramic Filters. Places across the world are using ceramic water filters as affordable ways to limit the spread of water-related diseases. With microscopic pores that filter out bacteria and other impurities, potable water can pass through. Many have touted these filters as the most cost-effective water sanitation devices and have thus been in wide use worldwide. Ceramic filters caused a 50% reduction in diarrheal disease in Cambodia since 2002, demonstrating the power of this technology in combating water sanitation issues.

These devices exhibit the innovation necessary to rid the world of prevalent yet avoidable water-related diseases. Entrepreneurs across the world are challenging the deaths that lack of clean drinking water causes head-on. With the continued development of new technologies aimed at improving water sanitation, there is hope that water-related diseases might become preventable for all.

– Garrett O’Brien
Photo: Flickr

bathrooms and girls’ education in AfricaIn the developed world, private bathroom stalls and toilets are largely taken for granted, especially within schools. The issues of period poverty and girls’ education in Africa do not seem like topics that would be intertwined. However, they are in fact completely dependent on one another. Most period poverty efforts focus on access to sanitary products. While this is an incredibly important component, bathrooms within schools are just as important. Without a safe space to change them, the work of providing reusable sanitary napkins cannot work. These two factors have to work together. Here are facts to know about the connection between bathrooms and girls’ education in Africa.

What is Social Infrastructure and Why Is It Important?

Social infrastructure refers to facilities that include education, health and youth services that promote a high quality lifestyle. It is created with the public good in mind, and the intent to provide better outcomes for peoples’ livelihoods. It impacts the connection between bathrooms and girls’ education in Africa directly. Buildings with a socially-minded design make children, and especially girls, feel safe, included and acknowledged. It will keep them coming back to those places. 

Research explains the positive impact of infrastructure on communities in Africa to the intersectional issue of girls’ education. It shows how infrastructure is more than just buildings and highways. Creating a physical space where girls feel safe is crucial to their personal and educational development. Focusing on infrastructure has been proven to create a more equitable society, especially within rural communities. This is due to the lack of accessibility to resources that are more likely present within urban areas. 

The Link Between Menstrual Stigma and Girls’ Education

Girls’ education in Africa faces many obstacles. This is largely due to gender stereotypes that are at the root of unsafe learning environments. Twenty-three percent of girls of primary school age are not in school, and that number jumps to 36% as they get older and enter secondary school. Menstruation is a factor in the connection between bathrooms and girls’ education in Africa. When girls begin to menstruate, they are faced with many barriers. These may include temporary social ostracization, missed school days and sexual violence by peers. 

One in ten girls misses 20% of school days because they cannot attend during their menstrual cycle. This largely due to the fact that – if they have access to sanitary products – they do not have a place to change them once at school. This discourages many girls from attending in the first place, and too many missed days ultimately leads to higher drop out rates because they cannot end up falling behind. 

Why Toilets?

Only 57% of primary schools within the world’s least developed countries have single-sex bathrooms. The good news is that countries such as Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Morocco and Mozambique have single-sex bathrooms in 80% of their primary schools. However, the work is far from complete given that some countries such as Eritrea only have these facilities in 27% of schools, and the lowest being only 9% in Senegal

The majority of sexual assault and rape incidents happen in school bathrooms because there is only one facility for all students with very little to no privacy. So along with embarrassment regarding using the restroom and changing their sanitary pads in front of male students, they feel incredibly unsafe walking into the bathroom. When girls do not have to worry about their hygiene and safety at school, they will be more likely to continue attending. Creating a safe environment is key to ensuring girls attend and stay in school. This can help break the cycle of gender disparity in education.  

Organizations Doing the Work

The state of girls’ education in Africa is being greatly improved by organizations that are funding initiatives and creating them. Taking notice of the connection between bathrooms and girls’ education in Africa can greatly aid these girls’ futures. The Global Partnership for Education partners with national governments to create “girl-friendly” sanitation facilities in order to improve girls’ education in Africa. Its grants to countries like Guinea and Cameroon enabled the building of separate bathrooms and water stations within schools. 

Programs like FRESH and WaterAid are coming together to ensure the creation of safe and healthy physical spaces for girls to learn. They are developing infrastructure plans that follow UNICEF and WHO guidelines. WaterAid established a list of components that should be a part of girl-friendly infrastructure. These include single-sex bathrooms with locks and privacy walls and any mechanism that can work as a disposal place for sanitary products. The availability of clean water within the bathroom is included in order to clean reusable sanitary napkins. It also includes a mirror (even if it is broken) so girls are able to check for any spots or stains before returning to the classroom. 

Why Should We Care?

The connection between bathrooms and girls’ education in Africa is a topic that deserves abundant attention. Everyone benefits from educated girls. When half of the world’s population is being excluded from equal educational opportunities it creates a greater human capital issue. The skills and talents of these girls might never be seen simply because they are unable to gain any upward mobility due to a lack of education. So on the next World Toilet Day, November 19, remember how something as simple as a private bathroom stall can make a huge difference in the life of a young, African girl. 

Stephanie Russo
Photo: Flickr

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 Pakistan
Pakistan had a population of 210 million people as of 2017 and is the world’s fifth-most populous country. Further, it is surprising that Pakistan’s GDP has grown 3.3 percent in a single year considering that 24 percent of its population lives below the national poverty line. Poverty has contributed to citizens’ ongoing struggle with inadequate sanitation. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Pakistan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Pakistan

  1. Pakistan is among the top 10 countries in the world that lack access to clean water. The nonprofit organization WaterAid conducted a study revealing that 21 million people out of the country’s total population lack access to clean water. Out of Pakistan’s total population, 79.2 percent of the rural poor have access to clean water. On the other hand, 98 percent of Pakistan’s rich have access to clean water. 
  2. Seventy-nine million people in Pakistan do not have access to a proper toilet. According to WaterAid.org, every two out of five people, or the majority of people living in poor rural areas, do not have access to a toilet. The lack of adequate facilities can create additional problems for citizens, such as bacterial infection or diarrhea. In fact, 16,800 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea each year. WaterAid is currently working to combat the sanitation issue in Pakistan by working with government and local officials to provide proper toilet facilities throughout disadvantaged communities.
  3. Pakistan’s women and young girls often stay at home rather than partaking in normal activities, due to a lack of menstruation supplies and proper facilities. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 75 percent of women stay at home during menstruation. Due to a lack of resources and cleaning facilities, many girls have no choice but to use unsanitary methods for managing menstruation, such as homemade sanitary pads. Further, these methods are prone to cause vaginal infections as a result of reuse. 
  4. Improper sanitation and food storage are some of the major sanitation issues in Pakistan. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reveals the prevalence of illness from improper food care. Contamination of food due to washing it in unsanitary water sources can cause bacteria like E. Coli, salmonella and other pathogens to enter the human body, causing severe illness.
  5. Waterborne diseases are prevalent as a result of untreated drinking water. According to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), 62 percent of the urban population and 84 percent of the rural population of Pakistan do not treat their drinking water to prevent waterborne diseases. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that 40 percent of all diseases in Pakistan are due to unsanitary drinking water.
  6. Stunted growth due to unsanitary conditions affects 38 percent of children in Pakistan. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) found that unsanitary conditions like drinking and bathing in unsanitary water stunt growth. In the state of Sindh, stunted growth affects 50 percent of children, which can also cause cognitive development stunting. The consequences of stunting are irreversible, causing lifelong implications for the child into adulthood. Working with these communities, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun a stunting reduction program to work with families to provide children with clean water and facilities to fight against poor sanitation in Pakistan.
  7. The misuse of pesticides in Pakistan’s agricultural fields results in an annual death rate of 10,000 people per year from agrochemical poisoning. Around 500,000 people fall ill annually as a result, although most are fortunate to recover. When people do not properly use pesticides, they can persist through rain and flooding, eventually entering water sources. People drink these water sources, in turn causing illness. Training is crucial for agricultural workers to properly prevent water contamination.
  8. The population growth rate has been climbing since the late 1900s. According to the United Nations, the total population of the country will reach 220 million people by mid-2020. A researcher with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) stresses that millions of people still live without access to clean drinking water, which includes large metropolitan cities where drinking water is scarce. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) recommendation for government intervention to bring clean water to overpopulated areas should help improve sanitation in Pakistan.
  9. The lack of proper toilet facilities is a part of 41 million people’s lives in Pakistan. According to The United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the lack of toilets leaves people with no choice but to practice open defecation, which can lead to the spread of diseases among communities. Pakistan is the third-largest country where people practice open defecation. UNICEF is working with the government to help build toilet facilities for communities that need them to ultimately improve sanitation in Pakistan. These facilities are especially important for girls to protect them against assault, which happens often during open defecation.
  10. Only two cities in Pakistan — Islamabad and Karachi — have biological waste facilities. These facilities clean only about 8 percent of wastewater due to limited functioning, even with the already limited number of facilities to filter wastewater. Industrial waste also pollutes water in Pakistan. Out of 6,000 of the country’s registered businesses, 1,228 have “highly polluted” water sources. Government officials are working towards improving water treatment centers. Pakistan established the National Water Policy (NWP) to ensure that the country applies 10 percent of national funding to the development and repair of water infrastructure.

Pakistan’s impoverished citizens experience sanitation issues the most. The solutions are fairly simple but Pakistan’s acceptance of outside support will be a substantial step. If one considers the progress that Pakistan is already making to change the lives of people facing sanitation challenges in Pakistan, it is clear that the country should be able to implement real change and help communities thrive for years to come.

– Amelia Sharma
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Sanitation in NicaraguaAlthough Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, it is also one of the poorest nations in the region. Its mountainous location presents a challenge when considering the development of infrastructure necessary for a functioning water and sanitation system. Although access to resources has been a persistent challenge, the following 10 facts about sanitation in Nicaragua explain the country’s upward trajectory of living conditions and a patchwork of support.

10 Facts about Sanitation in Nicaragua

  1. Improved Sanitation Coverage. Access to improved sanitation in the past 30 years has increased significantly. In 1990, Nicaragua had 44 percent overall sanitation coverage. As of 2015, that number increased to 68 percent, according to data collected by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. Improved Drinking-water Source Coverage. Driven by the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (U.N.), Nicaragua has managed to increase access to drinking-water coverage from 73 percent to 87 percent of the population between 1990 to 2015.
  3. Urban vs. Rural Coverage. Like in many countries, access to sanitary services depends on location and economic status. This is even more apparent for the Nicaraguan population, which has a high coverage gap of 22 percent between rural and urban areas in basic sanitary services. Nevertheless, the gap has decreased somewhat over time. It is down from a 28 percent gap in 2000.
  4. Climate factors. Nicaragua is situated in what is called the “Dry Corridor” of Central America, leaving it exposed to heavy drought. To compound, the negative factors of “El niño” warming the surface temperatures has prolonged these dry spells and intensified storms. The consequence of these abnormalities makes it harder to travel for water pick-up, so families try to store water indoors. This leads to communicable diseases such as diarrhea. Luckily, humanitarian organizations have not been largely hindered by climate-related occurrences and continue to offer services such as new sanitation projects toward greater coverage.
  5. WaterAid and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Created by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WASH is a global effort to promote access to clean water, sanitation and hygienic practices to those in need. WaterAid is the biggest international nonprofit organization to exclusively promote WASH. It has intervened in principalities lacking water systems to connect 24,000 to clean water sources, 9,600 with toilets in their homes and 55,000 with hygiene education since 2011.
  6. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). IDB is a Latin American regional bank with similar development goals to that of the World Bank. In order to finance the expansion of water and sanitation services, IDB loaned 11 Nicaraguan cities a total of $72 million for better access to potable water and sanitation facilities. The project is expected to bring clean drinking water to 65,000 people and benefit 31,000 with new sewage networks. These improvements in technical assistance and equipment will benefit 375,000 residents of the capital city, Managua.
  7. Water For People. Another nonprofit that is promoting the WASH initiative is Water For People. It works with district governments to construct water pipes and ensure their sustainability. It also started a microfinance approach by partnering with local institutions to train on how to offer loans for sanitation purposes. To promote better hygiene in schools, the organization partners with schools to bring hygiene programming into teacher-led activities. It helps parent-teacher associations to monitor its effectiveness. Water For People has brought reliable water services in two districts for more than 26,000 residents.
  8. American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF). Founded in 1992, ANF is a nonprofit with the objective of reducing the ingestion of contaminated water and improving living conditions for Nicaraguans. Its projects have built sanitation facilities, wells, tap stands, rainwater collection and water filtration systems. In 2018 alone, ANF built 24 water wells, 711 sanitation facilities and more than 730 water taps, benefiting thousands of local residents.
  9. Faith-based nonprofits and agriculture. Since rural farmlands have poor access to water and sanitation, a number of churches in Nicaragua have partnered with local farmers to implement more sustainable farming practices that can protect the soil and water from pollution. Episcopal Relief & Development is a faith-based nonprofit. Its initiatives include crop diversity, increased food production, tree planting, constructing land ridges and ditches to reduce soil erosion and harvesting rainwater with micro-dams. The organization is currently working on a WASH project in Boaco to educate local communities on how to improve facilities and access to clean water.
  10. Esperança Projects. Esperança is a comprehensive nonprofit focused on health and education. Since 2001, it has been working in the northern region of Jinotega, a poor farming region of Nicaragua. Among its services, it provides clean water sources like wells to help limit water-borne diseases that disproportionately affect children, women and poor communities as they expose themselves to harm when traveling long distances for water. It also educates farmers on better agroecological techniques that leave water sources uncontaminated. Along with education, the organization provides families with seeds and livestock that help combat soil erosion and water pollution.

The Millennium Development Goals and network of nonprofits working in Nicaragua have proved paramount to the nation’s development of water systems, sanitation and agricultural sustainability. Basic access to clean water and sanitation services are directly dependent on proper hygiene education and resources that these organizations have increasingly provided. These 10 facts about sanitation in Nicaragua represent both the challenges and optimism for its people with a highlight on the notable progress that has been made with support from local and global communities.

Caleb Cummings
Photo: Flickr

facts about sanitation in South Africa
South Africa, the southernmost country in Africa, is home to over 58 million people and recognizes 11 official languages. People also often refer to it as the “rainbow nation” for its wide diversity in culture. Today, people often link South Africa to its challenges with water supply and sanitation, and conversely, its recent achievements in both categories. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in South Africa.

10 Facts About Sanitation in South Africa

  1. Access to clean water is scarce. Droughts, infrequent rainfall and a shortage of resources are all causes of South Africa’s water crisis. In 2008, 5 million South Africans reported lacking access to safe, drinkable water. While this number has steadily declined over the years, with an improved 88.8 percent of households having access to piped water in 2016, some rural regions must rely on groundwater alone to meet their needs.
  2. Sanitation is slowly improving. While the rate of improving sanitation is still slow, about 82 percent of households recorded having access to either flush toilets or ventilated pits in 2017. This is a 20 percent increase since 2002, meaning lives are improving. Thanks to the volunteer work and successful methods of several NGO projects like AMREF and WaterAid, more and more people are gaining access to clean water and reliable toilets.
  3. Rural areas suffer the greatest lack of water. Dams supply a majority of the water in South Africa’s urban cities; however, rural areas often have to depend on rainfall that is becoming increasingly sporadic. Lack of water facilities has caused 74 percent of rural South Africans to be entirely dependent on groundwater that is often unclean. Additionally, the growing rural population is causing even more strain on the water crisis; 19 percent of people did not have a reliable source of clean water in 2006.
  4. Poor sanitation compromises clean water. Several major rivers stretch through South Africa, but sewage waste often contaminates its waters. Outdated infrastructure, poor management and lack of resources contribute to the contamination, rendering the water undrinkable and a public health risk. Contact with the contaminated water could lead to waterborne illness or death.
  5. Waterborne illnesses are still a threat. With large amounts of water contaminated with effluent, the risk of contracting a waterborne disease remains high. Waterborne illnesses affected 60 percent of the country’s rural regions in 2005. In 2008, high volumes of deadly bacteria, including E. Coli, were in the water supply on the southern coast, most likely caused by human waste contamination. However, through improving infrastructure and allowing better access to safe, drinkable water, organizations like AMREF have decreased the rate of child mortality due to waterborne illnesses.
  6. There is a Free Basic Water Access policy. South Africa is one of the few countries to explicitly state in its constitution that every citizen has an entitlement to a certain amount of free water. The Free Basic Water Access policy that is currently in place highlights this constitutional right, yet the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry does not properly monitor water usage and the country loses well over 20 percent of all available water supply due to damaged or broken pipes.
  7. Shared toilet facilities can be unsafe. Households that use shared toilet facilities often face unsafe conditions. Sixteen percent of households reported having their physical safety threatened in these facilities, and 24 percent complained of poor, unsafe lighting. Poor hygiene, lack of water and lack of maintenance in these shared facilities only attribute to the health risks of communities.
  8. There was a water crisis in Cape Town. The Cape Town Water Crisis was an extreme water shortage from 2017-2018 that caused the South African government to place water restrictions on citizens in an effort to conserve water supply. The term ‘Day Zero’ shocked the world when Cape Town officials declared that the city of 4 million people would be completely out of water in just three short months. Fortunately, through the allocation of water, tariffs and stricter enforcement, the South African city was able to pull itself out of the crisis and change its ways to avoid another ‘Day Zero’ in the future.
  9. Poor facilities are compromising girls’ education. Many South African girls and women find themselves unable to manage their menstruation in a safe, private place. Often times, school-aged girls miss out on their education because of the lack of clean, private restrooms at school. Out of 130 schools, 82 percent of students said the school facilities were not sufficiently private. This means that girls are missing school because of the humiliating conditions. In an effort to combat this dilemma, organizations like WaterAid are installing decent, private toilets in schools so girls can better manage their periods.
  10. NGO projects, like WaterAid, are helping. There are many nonprofits that are striving to improve the country’s situation. WaterAid, founded in 1981, is working to help solve South Africa’s sanitation issue. WaterAid teams with other projects to implement clean water, flush toilets and increased hygiene across the country. In 2016, WaterAid was able to provide 24.9 million people access to clean water, 24 million with safe toilets and 16.7 million with increased sanitation.

While these 10 facts about sanitation in South Africa show that the country still has several measures to make in terms of upholding human dignity, cleanliness and safety, its government and several organizations are taking action. With the help of these projects, improvements are happening every day as the country continues to take steps towards a cleaner, safer future.

– Hadley West
Photo: Flickr