Water, Sanitation and Health
Global access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education can reduce illness and death from disease, leading to improved health, poverty reduction, and socio-economic development. However, many countries are challenged to provide these basic necessities to their populations, leaving people at risk for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related diseases. Programs such as the Safe Water System can empower communities to improve their water by using household treatment options.
Providing daily water needs is a burden on many east African households. Often water has to be carried long distances to the house, which takes time and effort; a burden borne mainly by women and children. Because there is a lack of clean water in most rural villages in east Africa, water-borne diseases are the primary cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in these villages, with children being particularly vulnerable.
SANREM’s activities in relation to fresh water, sanitation and health aim to:
- Work with local communities, government and the private sector to provide people with safe water for drinking, washing and cleaning and for agricultural and livestock use.
- Support water and health initiatives in order to combat water-borne diseases through improved education for hygiene and sanitation.
- Target women and children who often spend many hours every day collecting water and the communities affected by severe water shortages.
- Develop and facilitate the implementation of technology options in water supply and environmental sanitation that are cost-effective.
- Organize water and sanitation education at schools and health centres.
- Advocate for support for the provision of basic water supplies and sanitation services in disadvantaged local communities.
How SANREM Promotes Water, Sanitation and Health
- Developing Community Water Systems and Water Safety Plans
Human health and well-being are strongly affected by the environment in which we live — the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food and nutrients we eat. Community water systems and water safety plans are important ways to ensure the health of the community.
In many places, communities lack the capacity to effectively adapt their current systems for water, sanitation, and hygiene to the community’s changing needs (population growth, changes in water quality).
According to the World Health Organization, the objectives of a water safety plan are to ensure safe drinking water through good water supply practices, which include:
- We train on the prevention of contamination of source waters;
- We support treating the water to reduce or remove contamination that could be present to the extent necessary to meet the water quality targets; and
- We support the process of preventing re-contamination during storage, distribution, and handling of drinking water.
2. Household Water Treatment & Safe Water Storage
In much of the world, community water systems do not exist. Approximately 780 million people do not have access to an improved drinking water (treatment that happens at the point of water collection or use, rather than at a large, centralized location) improves water quality and reduces diarrheal disease in developing countries.
In areas where access to safe water, appropriate waste water management, and adequate sewer systems is not feasible, certain programs, such as CDC’s Safe Water System, can empower people to improve and protect the quality of their drinking water through simple, inexpensive technologies to treat and safely store water in their homes. The intervention consists of these steps:
- Point-of-use treatment of contaminated water
- Safe water storage
- Improved hygiene
- Behavior change techniques
3. Sanitation & Hygiene
Sanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival, and development. Many countries are challenged in providing adequate sanitation for their entire populations, leaving people at risk for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related diseases. Throughout the world, an estimated 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation (more than 35% of the world’s population). Basic sanitation is described as having access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste (feces and urine), as well as having the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection, industrial/hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.
Without immediate acceleration in progress, the world will not achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) sanitation target (i.e., to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015).
Important Topics to Consider in capacity building of communities include:
- Toilets & Latrines
- Sewer Systems & Wastewater Management
- Potential Sanitation Solutions During an Emergency Response
Guidance for Reducing Health Risks to Workers Handling Human Waste or Sewage