Life on the planet is not possible without water. It covers more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface. However, most of it is unusable by humans and most other living things. As a result, we are experiencing a global water crisis with dire health consequences.
A lack of access to clean water jeopardizes the health of millions of people. Various contributing factors create health issues. For example, consuming contaminated water causes severe health issues. In addition, a lack of clean water affects the ability to grow food, and people and livestock end up competing for the small amounts of available clean water. Without access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation are also at risk.
Clean and safe water is critical for healthy living. But unfortunately, more than half of the developing world’s population suffers from diseases associated with unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Contracting water-borne illnesses—such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio—happen when people without access to clean water resort to drinking from contaminated water sources.
- Overall, millions of people die or become severely ill from complications caused by unsafe water every year.
- More than 85,700 children under 15 die from diarrhea linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities (WASH), compared with 30,900 from conflict. Diarrhea is preventable and treatable.
- Children under five are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe water and sanitation than violence.
- Repeated diarrhoeal diseases take a lifelong toll on health, productivity, and longevity and perpetuate a cycle of endless poverty.
- At least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
A lack of clean water also prevents people from practicing good hygiene, such as hand-washing. In addition, people can’t clean fruits and vegetables before eating them without clean water.
- Three billion people still lack basic hand-washing facilities at home.
- More than four billion people have no access to safely managed sanitation; 673 million still practice open defecation.
While unsafe water affects everyone, it’s a women’s health issue in many ways. Collecting water generally falls to women, and they spend vast amounts of time walking miles to fetch water. In addition to the dangers they face during the journey, they also suffer from the excessive weight of the full water containers they carry.
Agriculture and Food Production
Much like water-borne illnesses, irrigating crops with contaminated water and using it to nourish livestock can spread bacteria and diseases. A clean and plentiful water supply is essential to produce adequate food and fiber. A lack of safe water also affects lactating animals, making milk unavailable.
Affordable and Sustainable Clean Water Solutions
Ensuring that the world has safe water is challenging but solvable. Many of the options are affordable and sustainable. Thirst Relief International works with local partners and trains residents, giving them clean water solution opportunities.
Inexpensive and simple, Biosand filters are based on a method used for more than 200 years. For approximately $100, a Biosand filter can dramatically impact the life of a family and even an entire community for thirty years or more!
Borehole Wells & Well Maintenance
Drilling borehole wells provide a sustainable clean water supply in areas where groundwater sources are a viable option. For example, for about $1500, one borehole well project in India made clean drinking water available to an entire village, about 550 people.
Rainwater Harvesting Tanks
Using interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSB)—brick-like earthen blocks used in place of bricks in most construction applications—to construct rainwater tanks offers a sustainable solution to build water infrastructure. Rainwater harvest tanks supply water that provides people with adequate sanitation and hygiene, reducing the incidence of diarrhea by as much as 47 percent.
WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.
A W.A.S.H. program provides toilets, a borehole well, a water storage tank, filters, training on sanitation, handwashing,and water taps as drinking fountains.
Ecosan toilets contain waste in an above-ground collection tank, keeping people free from contact with unsanitary water, and a simple way to convert human waste into fertilizer without the odor issues of typical latrines.
Everyone Can Have a Big Impact on World Health
Even a small donation can have a significant impact. Every gift helps Thirst Relief International reach its mission to make clean water accessible. Your support can keep children healthy women safe, and provide sustainable and safe agricultural benefits to communities.
Clean water saves lives! It’s that simple!