Lack of Water and Sanitation Claims More Lives than War

by Theresa Scott
“[The water and sanitation] crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.”*
More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.*

I’ve written before on this blog about the need for clean drinking water for millions of people on several continents. Here then, is an update on bringing clean water to the developing world including South Asia, Africa, and India.

Progress is being made. UNICEF and the World Health Organization have a plan to improve the water situation in the world. It’s called “Sustainable Sanitation: Five Year Drive to 2015.”

Clean drinking water sources have been brought to over 2 billion people since 1990. However, 780 million people still remain without access to clean water. That is two and half times the population of the U.S. The burden of a poor water supply falls often on women and girls, who usually are the ones to fetch the water over distances requiring hours of walking each day; rural inhabitants; and the poor who live in slums, and who are most likely to miss out on the improvements made to drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Fecal material in water has been found to cause the majority of diseases in poor countries. The leading cause of death among children under five years of age is diarrhea which causes 1.5 million deaths a year. It kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.

This means sanitation is also part of the solution to improve the quality of life and health of people. Since 1990, 1.8 billion people now have access to better toilet facilities. It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities can result in an average reduction in cases of diarrhea of more than one-third. Washing hands with soap has been found to reduce diarrhea by more than 40%!

*Information for this blog has been taken from the “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation – Update for 2012” released by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programmer (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2012). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012 Update.

9 responses to “Lack of Water and Sanitation Claims More Lives than War

  1. It’s nice to know they are making progress. Even baby steps are forward momentum. Thanks for updating us, Theresa. I’m, um, going to go wash my hands now. 🙂

  2. Makes us realize how fortunate we are. And, that there is real effort going out.

  3. WOW. That is all I can say, Theresa. I’ve been so focused on feeding and clothing the undernourished and unfortunate of the world, that I paid no attention to the water situation.

    Such conditions are so hard to imagine for one who was born in a relatively rich country, and has never done without the way some of the rest of the world has.

    Thanks for the heads up, Theresa!

  4. With your permission, I’m going to forward your blog on to my Pastor. 🙂

  5. PJ Harjo, yes, please go ahead and forward the blog to your pastor. Thank you!

    And yes, I agree with the sentiments expressed in the comments here that we are so very fortunate to have clean water and good sanitation!

  6. I am glad they are making progress. Sadly, my city is known as having the worst water in the usa.

  7. Yes, and water quality will be a growing issue for the USA in coming years. Fresh drinking water is an incredibly valuable resource and necessary to each of us. You might say it’s personal. 🙂
    More links:

  8. It’s so easy to take this precious commodity for granted. Those figures you quote are appalling, but it’s good to know that progress is being made, albeit slowly.

  9. Pingback: WELLness | Well Wells

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s