There is a major discrepancy in the cost of water
The overall economic loss in Africa due to lack of access to safe water and sanitation is estimated at $28.4 billion a year.*
These losses are due to a number of factors. When people are sick, they are unable to work and produce for themselves and the economy. Also, they must get treatment which consumes a considerable amount of income. In Sub-Saharan Africa, treating diarrhoea consumes 12 percent of the health budget.*
The discrepancy between income and the cost of water is a major contributor to the water problem. If Americans were to pay a proportional amount of money for their clean water, a bottle of water would cost $62 and digging a well would cost $625,000.
25,000 people die every day because they lack access to clean water and sanitation.
Children are especially vulnerable: 90% of the deaths due to diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years old.
Proper implementation of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene programs reduces deaths from diarrheal diseases by 65%.
99% of the 3.4 million water, sanitation, and hygiene-related deaths occur in the developing world. – (World Health Organization)
Water and sanitation-related diseases
Cholera is an acute bacterial infection of the intestinal tract. It causes severe attacks of diarrhea that, without treatment, can quickly lead to acute dehydration and death.*
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. Symptoms are characterized by headaches, nausea and loss of appetite.*
Intestinal worms infect about 10 per cent of the population in the developing world and, depending upon the severity of the infection, lead to malnutrition, anaemia or retarded growth. About 400 million school-age children are infected by roundworm, whipworm or hookworm. In fact, roundworm and whipworm alone are estimated to affect one-quarter of the world’s population.
Trachoma is spread through poor hygiene caused by lack of adequate water supplies and unsafe environmental sanitation conditions. About 6 million people are blind today because of trachoma. It affects women 2 to 3 times more than men. Studies have found that providing adequate water supplies reduces infection rates by 25 percent.*
Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is a disease caused by parasitic worms. They cause infection and can eventually damage the liver, intestines, lungs and bladder. Studies have found that adequate water supply and sanitation reduces infection rates by 77 percent.*
Throughout the world, water supplies in developing countries are contaminated with a wide variety of microorganisms that cause typhoid, diarrheal diseases, cholera, and other notoriously virulent diseases. Children are the most likely to become ill because their immune system is less developed and they dehydrate faster than adults.
The water problem perpetuates the cycle of water-related illness. Communities have no choice but to drink the very water that is making them sick. Children are forced to rehydrate with water that caused the diarrhea that dehydrated them in the first place.
Until we solve the water problem, ordinary diarrhea will continue to kill more people than any other water-related diseases. A healthy community cannot exist without clean water.
Women & Children
The water problem affects women and children as they are responsible for collecting water.
Women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in 76% of households in developing countries.*
Women and children travel six to nine miles per day collecting water and carrying up to 44 pounds per trip. It is women and children who are literally carrying the weight of the water problem.
Fulfilling this daily responsibility leaves little or no time for women to pursue developmental opportunities and for children to get an education.
The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water. That is an entire year’s worth of work by the entire labor force in France – and so poverty continues.