Brought to you by Developing Radio Partners. and ACPC
Investing in clean water
December 28, 2017
There are women we work with who wait for hours to answer the call of nature. They can "go" on the edge of their village, on the river, or on the train tracks. Open defecation leads to all kinds of problems. Think of the health impacts of not defecating all day when you need to, and the safety issues of going out at night. Think of the potential for contamination.
Globally 2.3 billion people lack access to a toilet. At a time when technology can instantly connect people across the globe, when more people have cellphones than toilets, we have nearly a billion people defecating in the open. Flies breeding on faeces deliver infectious organisms back to humans by contaminating food and water.
The health toll is enormous and heart-breaking. Nearly 1 million people die every year from a water, sanitation, and hygiene-related disease. Diarrhoea is one of the top three leading causes of child death. Those that survive have compromised digestive systems that fail properly to absorb nutrients, causing permanent stunting. In India alone, 39 per cent of children under the age of 5 were stunted in 2016: some 10-year-old children are the size of the average 3-year-old.
Lack of sanitation is a large factor in the lack of safe drinking water. Water polluted by human and animal waste is often the only source available for people living in urban slums or rural communities far from infrastructure that isolates drinking water from contaminants. Currently 884 million people live without access to safely managed water. It is difficult to comprehend, given that we have known how to solve water and sanitation pollution issues like this for over 100 years.