Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Impact of Lack of Access to Safe Drinking Water

Thanks to the tireless efforts of organizations and advocates throughout the world, like the ones mentioned in our previous blog post, the water crisis has risen to the forefront of the human rights platform in recent years. At times, it may be hard for us to truly appreciate the plight facing nearly one billion people world-wide, and what conditions these individuals are forced to live in as a result of poor water sanitation. However the effects of this lack of safe drinking water can not be understated. 

From a health perspective, the numbers are staggering. Microbiological contamination in drinking water leads to widespread disease, most commonly diarrheal disease. 1.8 million people, 1.5 million of which are children, die a year as a result of such diarrheal disease. 43% of the global population is deprived of household safe piped water, with the majority of these being in sub-Saharan Africa. In these areas, the constant threat of water-borne disease combined with the large population of HIV infected individuals is a recipe for disaster. These immunocompromised people cannot afford to be deprived of access to safe drinking water. Affordable, reliable, and practical filtration systems would make drastic improvements to these regions, something that is absolutely imperative and the ultimate goal of Pure Water Access Project. Studies have shown that household water-quality interventions can reduce diarrheal morbidity by 40%

The education systems and economies of these impoverished areas have been affected as a result of these health-related issues as well. It is estimated that  443 million school days are lost each year from diarrheal disease as a result of water-borne illness. The amount of time that would be saved by not having to search out “clean” sources of drinking water would be utilized in a variety of ways, including work and education.

§  While there are many current models for filtration of contaminated water, most of these models are too expensive or impractical for the impoverished areas in which they would need to be implemented. Research has shown that point-of-use household intervention is twice as effective as point-of-source intervention in preventing diarrheal disease. Many of the established purification techniques, such as ceramic filters, bio sand filters, and chlorination, fail to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's protocol for removal of bacteria/viral particles/protozoan organisms in many instances.   A multi-purpose purification system that meets all of the necessary criteria must be developed and implemented on a wide scale to combat this water crisis. Clean water is a basic human right, and it our responsibility to ensure that right is afforded to the global population.

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