Water Crisis Hits Developing Countries

Elizabeth Bagley, Staff Writer

Did you know that lack of sanitation is the world’s leading cause of infection? 884 million people do not have access to safe water supplies. That’s every one in eight people. More people in the world have access to a cell phone than have access to a toilet. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation is killing thousands of people in developing nations, and leaving people with a reduced quality of life.

The water crisis is a global catastrophe, spanning from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Honduras, India, Kenya, and Uganda. For instance, in Bangladesh, only 16% of the population has access to restroom facilities. Wells were constructed in the late 70’s and made a significant difference, but in 1993 high arsenic levels were discovered in many wells. Long-term intake of this chemical can cause significant health problems, including cancer. Many contaminated wells were then closed, though the effects on the community were not considered. The community then had to seek other water sources, which usually means returning to unprotected sources such as ponds or ditches. This can dramatically increase the risk of bacteriological contamination, which leads to significant water related disease, increasing child mortality. Scenarios like this are not uncommon in other countries.

Water.org is an organization that is reaching out to these communities. Water.org’s goal is to “draw attention to the world’s number one health problem, unsafe and inadequate water supplies, and to raise funds to help fight this immense problem – one community at a time. Our mission is to inspire people to act”. They develop sustainable water projects in communities and encourage communities to take a role in solving their own water supply problems. They also try to encourage donors to invest wisely. “We carefully invest donors’ funds in only the highest quality projects through locally-based water development organizations. We hold ourselves accountable to donors and to people who benefit from the projects they support.”

Water.org is able to bring someone clean water for life for $25. Depending on the country, a well will cost anywhere from $7,000 in Ghana to $30,000 in Kenya. To ensure lasting change, Water.org also provides sanitation, health and hygiene education, and community mobilization with the implementation of each well. Water.org also provides long-term monitoring of the wells to make sure they are in good condition. Over 50% of all water projects fail and less that 5% are visited. Less that 1% have any longer-term monitoring which is part of the reason so many fail.

Fighting the global water crisis is a long-term initiative that is going to take much more awareness, education, and investment. With the help of organizations like Water.org developing nations can rise from a reduced quality of life and prosper.