Around 40 percent of the worlds population does not have adequate safe drinking water. By 2025, this number is expected to rise to 50 percent of the world’s population. The use of unclean drinking water and poor sanitation are one of the primary sources of childhood death worldwide. Every year, 525,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea due to water-related illness. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne and sanitation-related illnesses. Half of all malnutrition is associated with diarrhea or intestinal infections resulting from unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, or insufficient hygiene.
Less than half of primary schools in developing countries have access to safe water and sanitation. In particular, rural schools typically lack any drinking water, sanitation and hand washing facilities. The lack of hygiene in schools and high levels of person to person contact result in a high-risk environment for children to catch a variety of communicable diseases. If water supplies are present they are typically low quality and may lead to health issues from long term exposure to contaminants such as bacteria, lead and arsenic among others. Girls face an additional barrier to education during menstruation if adequate sanitation facilities are not present and can miss weeks of school each year. Additionally, in the absence of water supply, girls spend hours each day collecting water which limits the time available for their education.
“Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the health of every child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies. As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow”(UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, 2017).
In addition to safe drinking water Water Without Borders focuses on providing:
Construction of hand washing stations for children.
Construction of a latrine(s) for hygiene and sanitation.
- Education and training on hygiene and health care.
Construction of yard taps to obtain drinking water.
- Landscaping to prevent flooding and contamination of water supplies.
Families have the resources necessary to water crops and grow healthy food, leading to better nutrition for children. Parents are freed from the constant burden of finding and carrying water, allowing them to better provide and care for their children.
Children attend school more regularly and have more time to study, as they no longer spend their days searching for water or staying home due to water-related illnesses.
Adequate sanitation encourages children to be at school, particularly girls. Access to latrines raises school attendance rates for children: an increase in girls’ enrollment can be attributed to the provision of separate, sanitary facilities so that teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month.
Different Solutions for Different Projects
All life depends on water. Health depends on safe, clean, accessible water. The solution is simple – provide sustainable sources of clean water.
Water treatment is essential to providing safe and reliable drinking water to a community. An appropriate level of treatment will be designed for each of the communities that we work in with the goal of having it be easily maintained and repaired by the local community.
In many locations where surface water sources such as rivers and lakes are limited or of poor water quality an alternate solution can be found. Drinking water wells are designed to use clean water found in layers of gravel, sand, and hard rock under ground. Depending on the design and production rate of the well it can be used to supply both small and large communities with adequate drinking water supplies. Wells can often be designed with simple mechanics suitable for the target population’s needs and maintenance capabilities.
Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater, especially where wells cannot be dug deep enough. Cisterns can also be outfitted with filters or other water purification methods when the water is intended for consumption. It is not uncommon for a cistern to be open in some manner in order to catch rain or to include more elaborate rainwater harvesting systems. It is important in these cases to have a system that does not leave the water open to algae or to mosquitoes, which are attracted to the water and then potentially carry disease to nearby humans.