Lifewater International | A Non-Profit Christian Water Development Organization http://lifewater.org Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:49:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Water and Children http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-children/ http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-children/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 19:06:03 +0000 http://proofs.factor1studios.com/lifewater-2014/?p=3648 Teaching children the importance of using safe water means reaching families and communities quickly and training the next generation.

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In the United States, we have good reason to expect that our children will grow up healthy. A major reason why we can hope for a good future for our little ones is that we have a reliable clean water supply. Yet in many regions of the world, water is a silent enemy. Communities without safe water constantly face serious threats to their children’s health. Currently, approximately 750 million people live without a source of safe water.[1]

Disease

Unsafe water makes children sick and leads to devastating numbers of children dying of preventable diseases every year. About 1.7 billion people suffer from diarrheal disease each year, and it is the second leading cause of death in children under five.[2] Those under the age of five are especially vulnerable to the serious effects of unsafe water, a lack of hygiene, and inadequate sanitation facilities and practices. Many children in the majority world, in places like Sub-Saharan Africa and many parts of Asia, live with constant diarrhea caused by lack of safe water and sanitation. Each year approximately 580,000 children die from diarrheal disease, about 1,600 each day, or one every minute.[3]

In addition to diarrheal diseases, children suffer from other water-related illnesses that most parents in the U.S. have scarcely heard of. These include trachoma, which causes blindness and for which over 48 million people were treated in 2012;[4] and diseases caused by parasitic worms, like schistosomiasis, which affects nearly 250 million people today.[5] Any one of these diseases can devastate a community’s young population.

One of the most common symptoms of water-borne disease is diarrhea, which is defined as three or more incidents of non-formed stools per day. Many children in the developing world live with constant diarrhea caused by water-related illnesses. The young ones are plagued by dehydration, fatigue, and weakened immune systems. Diarrhea also contributes to malnutrition, stunted growth, and cognitive impairment. It is almost impossible for children with diarrhea or their parents to keep the watery feces from contaminating other people. Disease spreads rapidly.

Heavy labor

In communities without easy access to water, children are often the ones designated to haul it long distances to their homes. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, so a child providing a family of four with 16 gallons (just 4 gallons per person) of water per day must carry daily 128 pounds of water. Children must transport this heavy burden from water sources that are up to several miles away.

The heavy labor of carrying water often causes neck and back problems that afflict children their entire lives. Sending children long distances to retrieve water also puts them in danger of accidents, abduction, and physical or sexual assault.

Lack of education

Children in communities lacking accessible clean water often miss school. The demands of retrieving water for their families leave little time or energy for studies. In addition, children are often too sick from water-related diseases to go to school, or the embarrassment of diarrhea keeps them home. In some cases, schools must be suspended or closed to stop the spread of disease.

Lifewater is working in several countries to help children and their families get safe water. We have learned that by teaching children the importance of using safe water, we are reaching families and communities quickly and also training the next generation. Through Lifewater’s WASH in Schools program, thousands of children will gain access to safe water and the tools to use it and keep it safe for years to come.

 

[1] WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update (Geneva: WHO Press, 2014), 8.

[2] “Diarrhoeal disease: Fact Sheet #330,” World Health Organization, last modified April 2013, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en. See also United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Pneumonia and diarrhea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children (New York: UNICEF 2012).

[3] United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, Progress Report 2013 (New York: UNICEF 2013), 25.

[4] “Trachoma: Status of endemicity for blinding trachoma, 2012”, World Health Organization, last modified 2013. http://apps.who.int/neglected_diseases/ntddata/trachoma/trachoma.html

[5] “Schistosomiasis: Status of schistosomiasis endemic countries, 2012”, World Health Organization, last modified 2013. http://apps.who.int/neglected_diseases/ntddata/sch/sch.html

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Water and Women http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-women/ http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-women/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:00:27 +0000 http://proofs.factor1studios.com/lifewater-2014/?p=3667 As the main users of water, women are waiting to be radically transformed by Lifewater’s mWASH programs.

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The sun had barely set, it seemed, when it was time for Nsonge to wake up and prepare for the two-mile long trek to the nearest stream. She needed to fetch water for the family before her husband and children awoke, returning by sunrise to begin the rest of the day’s work.

Currently, nearly 750 million people, 11 percent of the world’s population, lack access to safe water;[1] more than half of these individuals are women and girls. Daily, they are responsible for collecting water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation. The huge burden of fetching water hinders women and girls’ participation in activities such as education, politics, business, and recreation.

Distance and Time

Collecting water is often the most time-consuming and most important daily activity for women and young girls in developing countries. It has been estimated that women in sub-Saharan Africa spend 40 billion hours annually fetching and carrying water from sources (that may not provide clean water) far from home.[2] The time spent collecting water makes it difficult for women to focus on other economic activities and for young girls to attend school. The weight of the water they carry also exposes them to a greater risk of malnutrition, back problems, and anemia. They expend immense amounts of energy and often do not have enough food to replenish their weary bodies, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women.

Water Quantity

The precious, small amounts of water gathered are often only used for drinking and food preparation, leaving little hope for disease-fighting hygiene practices like handwashing. Too little water for proper hygiene behaviors perpetuates harmful pathogens and bacteria, which are a major cause of diarrheal disease, sickness, malnutrition, and death. Women bare the majority of these burdens as the caregivers in the family. Also, women are commonly the ones to care for the family’s crops if they have access to land. Without adequate amounts of water for irrigation, crops suffer and women are not able to feed their families.

Water Quality

In many places, the available water source, even at a great distance, is contaminated. Many women lack access to enough fuel to boil and treat the water. Additionally, many times new technologies for water treatment are taught to the men in the community and the knowledge remains unshared with the women who manage the water collection and storage for the family. This hard-earned water, if left untreated, has the potential to infect small children and elderly adults with fatal illness.

Improved water sources are the first step to empowering women in developing countries. As the main users of water, women’s lives, like Nsonge’s, are waiting to be radically transformed by Lifewater’s mWASH programs, including water well drilling, pump repair, and spring capping to provide safe water close to their homes. Partner with Lifewater to change women’s lives around the world through the gift of water.

 

[1] WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update (Geneva: WHO Press, 2014), 8.

[2] W.J. Cosgrove and F.R. Rijsberman, “Creating a vision for water, life and the environment,” Water Policy 1 (1998): 115.

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Water and Poverty http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-poverty/ http://lifewater.org/articles-category/water-poverty/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 13:49:23 +0000 http://proofs.factor1studios.com/lifewater-2014/?p=3664 Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing; access to consistent sources of clean water is crucial to poverty reduction.

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Water and poverty are inextricably linked. Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing; access to consistent sources of clean water is crucial to poverty reduction. Currently, 748 million people live without access to safe water and 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation.[1]

When we talk about poverty, we primarily refer to the economically disadvantaged groups of people across wide swaths of the globe, mainly in Africa and Asia, that survive on subsistence farming or incomes of less than $2 per day. There were 2.4 billion people living in this situation in 2010. The global rate of extreme poverty, defined as the percentage of those living on less than $1.25 per day, was halved between 1990 and 2010.[2]

In that same twenty-year period, the global proportion of people living without access to clean water was halved as well, with 2.3 billion people gaining access to improved drinking water between 1990 and 2012.[3] Safe water means consistent access to and adequate supply of clean water suitable for drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning. According to the World Health Organization, this means safe drinking water from a source less than 1 kilometer (.62 miles) away and at least 20 liters (5.28 gallons) per person per day.[4] In some cases, safe water for irrigation or animals might be necessary to the extent that it affects individual human health and dignity.

Businesses rely on water and sanitation

From the local farmers market to large multinational corporations in agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries, all businesses rely on some extent on consistent access to safe water and sanitation. Water is essential for growing and processing raw goods for food and textiles. It is essential for industry and manufacturing, from local farmers washing produce to processing goods like coffee and cotton to steel manufacturing.

It is also essential for employees and consumers. Without safe water and sanitation during the day, workers and customers have to leave their job or market to find water and a place to go to the bathroom. Employers who are able to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities for their employees are able to retain healthier and more productive employees. Schools in rural areas often have a difficult time retaining teachers when they cannot provide sanitation facilities in or near the school.

The workforce relies on WASH-enabled health and education

Whether self-employed or employed by another, we have to stay healthy to do our work and be productive. Moreover, in order to earn an income, we can’t spend all our time caring for sick family members. For those who live without safe water, adequate sanitation, and effective hygiene practices, water-borne disease is a constant threat to health, keeping people out of the work force and in poverty. Over 40 billion productive hours are lost each year to fetching water in sub-Saharan Africa.[5] About half of the developing world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with water-related illness.[6]

Preventable, water-borne disease also keeps children out of school. An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year from water-related illness.[7] In many cases, children are too sick with diarrhea and other water-borne diseases like typhoid, cholera, or dysentery to go to school or must care for sick family members instead of going to class. Children also must help their families retrieve safe water from long distances if it is not available nearby. When the school does not have sanitation facilities, even a simple latrine, children must defecate in the open or miss class while they find someplace to go to the bathroom. This not only makes them miss class, it facilitates the further spread of disease.

When girls begin puberty and start to menstruate, they are disproportionately affected by a lack of safe water and sanitation because they are unable to attend to their hygiene needs at school. They must miss class for long periods, skip roughly one quarter of school days, and many drop out of school altogether. When children are unable to attend school and get an education, the workforce of the entire country is affected, and nations looking to emerge from widespread poverty find this obstacle very difficult to overcome.

Good governance relies on WASH – enabled health and education

Much like business, civil society relies on a healthy, educated public. This is especially true in democracies, where people use their votes to determine the policies of the nation or region. When large numbers of citizens are too sick to participate in civil society, or when citizens are uninformed about the issues, they are vulnerable to corruption and oppression.

In many countries preventable, water-borne disease keeps a large portion of the population in a cycle of illness, illiteracy, and poverty. People in this position may spend most of their time on the daily tasks required for survival, like fetching clean water, making it difficult to organize for community development. When there is no safe water and sanitation, people are more vulnerable to powerful or wealthy individuals and groups that threaten their security and resources. On the other hand, positive experiences in community development, when the community members are equipped and empowered to help themselves get access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene often lead to more productive collaboration in other areas, like education, ecological stewardship, and small business. Community achievement is contagious and transformative. Lifewater’s programs invest heavily in community involvement, building on the community’s gifts and strengths to lay a foundation for more growth in poverty reduction efforts.

Water includes more women in economic activity

Women bear the heaviest burden when there is no safe water and sanitation. In most places that lack these resources, women and children are responsible for retrieving water for their families, often spending several hours each day traveling and waiting at a water point. This often puts them at risk of assault and injury. The women and girls often stay home from work and school to care for family members that are sick with water-related diseases. They do most of the cooking and cleaning for the family. They miss school when there is no latrine to give them a private place to take care of their hygiene needs during menstruation. They are more vulnerable to infections when they have to wait until dark to use the bathroom, which often means defecation in a field or forest.

Where women must endure these experiences, they are often excluded from productive or income-earning labor and kept in poverty. Where women have access to a nearby source of clean drinking water, a toilet or latrine, and knowledge about good hygiene practices like handwashing, they and their families thrive. They can use the time saved to work in home-based businesses and agriculture as well as employment outside the home. More girls can attend school, and for longer. They can break the cycle of poverty and water-borne disease.

Lifewater’s programs make women’s involvement a non-negotiable. Since women are so closely connected and affected by water and sanitation, they must be involved in the solution. Women must serve on village water committees, and we have found this not only to be more effective in the sustainability of the water point, but we have found these empowered women often become a huge asset to their community where they may not have had the opportunity before.

Reduced vulnerability in disaster

Communities affected by disaster, either natural or man-made, are more resilient if they have access to safe water and sanitation. Communities with safe water have healthier members, whose bodies are more resistant to illnesses that come with disaster and displacement. Safe water points can be life-savers in times of displacement when people, usually the poor, must travel long distance over long periods. Sanitation facilities among displaced people are necessary to avoid the spread of disease, especially to weakened or injured people. When clean drinking water, latrines or toilets, and good hygiene practices are present, people can recover from disaster more quickly.

Relatively cost-effective intervention

Investment in WASH promises one of the highest rates of return of any development opportunity directed at alleviating poverty.[8] It offers the most significant single opportunity for change in the lives of those in extreme poverty, its effects reaching to all other activities and relationships. A $1 investment in WASH yields $3-$34 in economic return,[9] but lack of WASH can cost up to 5% of a country’s GDP.[10]

“In fact, no single intervention is more likely to have a significant impact on global poverty than the provision of safe water.”[11]

[1] WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update (Geneva: WHO Press, 2014), 8.

[2] “Poverty Overview,” World Bank, last updated Apr 7, 2014, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview.

[3] WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update (Geneva: WHO Press, 2014), 12.

[4] “Health through safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” World Health Organization, last accessed October 2, 2014, http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/mdg1/en/.

[5] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 47, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-report-2006.

[6] United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: power poverty and the global water crisis (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 45, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-report-2006.

[7] United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Human Development Report 2006, Beyond Scarcity: power poverty and the global water crisis (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 45, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-report-2006.

[8] In 2012, development economists ranked getting clean water to rural villages as number one in greatest estimated impact among strategies to fight global poverty. Bruce Wydick, “Cost-Effective Compassion,” Christianity Today, February 2012, 24.

[9] Schuster-Wallace et al., Safe Water as the Key to Global Health, United Nations University (UNU-INWEH) (2008), 6, available at http://inweh.unu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/SafeWater_Web_version.pdf. When operation and maintenance costs are included, a more conservative estimate is $2-$5.50 in return (globally) for water and sanitation investments, respectively. Guy Hutton, Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage (WHO: 2012), available at http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2012/globalcosts.pdf.

[10] UN Water, The UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World (UN Water: 2009), 8, available at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3-2009.

[11] Schuster-Wallace et al., Safe Water as the Key to Global Health, United Nations University (UNU-INWEH) (2008), 8, available at http://inweh.unu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/SafeWater_Web_version.pdf.

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Shallow Well Drilling http://lifewater.org/articles-category/shallow-well-drilling/ http://lifewater.org/articles-category/shallow-well-drilling/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:19:00 +0000 http://proofs.factor1studios.com/lifewater-2014/?p=3692 Where ground water is located within 200 feet of the ground surface, Lifewater trains national partner organizations on all aspects of shallow well drilling.

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Where ground water is located within 200 feet of the ground surface, Lifewater trains community leaders on all aspects of shallow well drilling, including: locating the drilling site, equipment operation and maintenance, logging the borehole, setting the hand pump with a sanitary seal, and well disinfection. As a part of programs, Lifewater provides drilling equipment to qualified communities and provides ongoing trainings so they become experts in the field.

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Biosand Filtration http://lifewater.org/articles-category/biosand-filtration/ http://lifewater.org/articles-category/biosand-filtration/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:14:44 +0000 http://proofs.factor1studios.com/lifewater-2014/?p=3683 Contaminated water can be purified for drinking purposes using bio-sand filtration.

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Contaminated water can be purified for drinking purposes using bio-sand filtration, which removes organisms responsible for diseases spread by water such as cholera, typhoid fever, diarrhea and amoebic dysentery, and also strain out fine particles which cause cloudiness. Durable bio-sand filters manufactured for household use are constructed from cement using a steel mold. The cement container is designed to allow water to flow through a column of sand at a predetermined rate to remove contaminants in water. A biological layer that forms on the surface of the sand, known as the schmutzdecke, comprises a layer that trap and break down organic matter, including disease-causing organisms in water. The combination of sand and the biologic layer purifies water at a rate of 12-18 liters per hour, which can serve the average families’ daily needs.

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