Clean Water as a Means to Poverty Reduction
By admin March 23, 2017

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March 22 is celebrated worldwide as International World Water Day. This year focuses particularly on wastewater, with the theme of this year asking, “Why waste water?”. According to the United Nations (UN), over 80 percent of all wastewater generated by human activities flows back to nature polluting environment. Currently 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. If managed safely, wastewater can be an important source of affordable water, energy, nutrients, and other recoverable materials. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 aims to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all,” including an ambitious target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increase recycling and safe reuse globally by 2030.

Clean water is essential to everyone and contributes to poverty reduction in many ways. Poor communities without access to safe water are exposed to water-related disease such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, and worm infection, which are the main killers in many parts of the developing world. Unsafe water, poor sanitation, and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Women and children are particularly vulnerable to these diseases as almost 90 percent of child deaths from diarrheal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene. Sufficient clean and safe water is the most effective way to improve health, which is fundamental to any social and economic development in poor areas. The expenses saved on visiting doctors, treatment, and medicine can be seen as an increase in income. Meanwhile, improved health and nutrition also boost productivity and contribute to income.

Access to water is equally important. With water resources miles away from villages, members of a community, usually women, have to spend hours a day to find and transport water from long distance. During a drought, young girls and women in Malawi can spend up to eight hours a day fetching around 40 pounds of water. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 40 billion hours a year are spent hauling water and the time could have been spent on income-generating jobs, caring for families or education. Evidence shows that 443 million school days are lost from water-related illness. In other cases, children must help their mothers to carry water, which keeps them away from school. Known as “time poverty,” the time spent on collecting water narrowed opportunities for study and paid work, which could contribute to break the poverty cycle.

Advocated by the UN on this year’s World Water Day, “we need to improve the collection and treatment of wastewater and safely reuse it. At the same time, we need to reduce the quantity and pollution load of wastewater we produce, to help protect the environment and our water resources”. According to WHO, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity. Well-managed investment in water infrastructure is profitable and in substantial demand in many parts of the developing world. Such investment generates returns and contributes to poverty alleviation. The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous and there is no time to waste.


Read more:

Linking poverty reduction and water management

Global Water Poverty Facts

A Closer Look: Water and Poverty

World Water Day 22 March

Thanks for sharing !

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