Safe Water & Sanitation Provides Health and Well-Being
Billions of people across the globe do not have access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation. Far too many face the daily challenge of the need to find safe water to drink, the fear of their children falling ill to preventable waterborne disease (a leading cause of children’s death in many places) and an inability to plan for the future.
The United Nations along with groups like Lifewater International are working to provide all people universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water. “Safely managed drinking water services” are defined as drinking water from an improved water source located on premises, available when needed, and free from fecal and priority chemical contamination. In addition to providing health benefits and a sense of well-being, improving water supplies and sanitation is shown to boost a country’s economic growth as well as contribute to a reduction in poverty.
The recently released UN 2023 World Water Conference report found:
- A quarter of the global population – 2 billion people – uses an unsafe drinking water source.
- Almost half of humanity – 3.6 billion people – lives without safely managed sanitation.
- And 1 in 3 people – 2.3 billion – lack basic hand washing facilities at home.
- Nearly every water-related intervention requires cooperation (UNESCO).
The report explains how the “ongoing water and sanitation crisis is a threat to everyone as poor water management increases or multiplies the risks in all aspects of life.” Moreover, the problem is growing due to an increase in the population, agriculture and industry’s need for water, and more severe flooding and droughts. The report warns that without a functioning, resilient water cycle for all people everywhere, human health and environmental integrity will remain threatened; and a sustainable, equitable future will remain out of reach.
In terms of water, it is not merely enough to have a water source. If a community relies on the water for drinking, it must be safe from harmful contaminants. Even a clear or “clean-looking” glass of water may contain non-visible impurities such as bacteria, nitrates, or dangerous levels of arsenic or fluoride. Conversely, a glass full of cloudy-looking water may actually be safer to drink.
The distinction between safe or only clean-looking water can make the difference between life and death, especially for a child under 5. It can make the difference between good health and expensive medical payments for a young family. It can also make the difference between simply surviving or thriving for a family and an entire community.
Lifewater International is committed to providing communities first and foremost with safe, sustainable water to ensure the health of all of those who come into contact with it. Our next goal is to try and provide clear, non-cloudy water that people will enjoy drinking.
The UN World Water Day emphasizes why sanitation and hygiene are just as essential to long-term, sustainable solutions as is safe, clean water. For instance, if a Lifewater project only provided safe water without teaching the community the importance of adopting sanitation and hygiene practices, most likely the water source will be contaminated in the future. This is why all our projects include giving communities clean, safe water along with implementing sanitation and hygiene practices.
To ensure these life-saving, healthy solutions will last for generations, we seek a thorough buy-in from the community, which includes building enduring relationships with the people the water will serve. In addition, we ask for a financial commitment toward construction costs before we even start the project.
Full implementation of our Healthy Homes program includes hiring local health promoters to connect with and explain the importance of adopting healthy habits throughout the village to keep its members well. Education and resources include showing villagers the importance of building and using a simple pit or pour-flush latrine to separate people from poop. This not only drastically decreases waterborne disease; it improves safety and gives people back their dignity.
Other healthy habits include teaching the importance of keeping containers clean as safe water in dirty containers quickly becomes contaminated, and why it is safer to wash and dry dishes in the sun away from animals. Our team helps families build simple devices to wash hands with soap and water; and teaches them the importance of keeping yards clean of feces and trash to discourage the spread of germs and disease. Once a community commits to healthy habits, each family receives a “Healthy Home Certificate” to proudly display in their home as a symbol of their accomplishments.
One example of the transformation clean, safe water; sanitation and hygiene can do for a family is best explained by Alamitu, a member of a completed Lifewater project in Mender, Ethiopia. She describes, before the new well, her whole community used a small, muddy pond for water. Not only did it not supply adequate water for everyone, but what was there made people sick.
Alamitu explains how life changed dramatically for all, including the children who stopped suffering from waterborne disease. After Lifewater’s help, her family now has a latrine to use and a water supply that allows them to wash their clothes once a week. She says she is optimistic about a future with the promise of growth and health for her family, and can finally envision her children completing their education and leading happy, healthy lives.
Donating to a Lifewater project helps many more families like Alamitu’s to have hope for a better future for their children. Your gift to Lifewater allows you to partner with a village, kickstart a community water project like the life-changing one in Alamitu’s village, and teach healthy habits. You can follow the project and measure the impact it makes in a family’s life and health. Your gift will also help us equip local churches to love their community. Please consider making a transformational donation to Lifewater International today.
You can give with confidence to Lifewater International knowing your contribution will change someone’s life. We are a top-rated charity in the United States and are endorsed by independent reporting organizations, including Guidestar, ECFA, and Charity Navigator. It is our honor to serve all people regardless of religion, listening first and walking alongside community members as neighbors. Please give safe water today and help us eradicate this crisis village by village.