May 17th, 2013 10:25 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
ONE’s Health Research Assistant Anupama Dathan checks out the latest findings from UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.
Water, water everywhere…but not enough that’s clean, says a new WHO and UNICEF report released this week.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals, the world aimed to halve by 2015 the population without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
The good news is that we met the drinking water goal back in 2010. But, with less than one thousand days to go until the deadline, the report warns the global community that it is not on track to meet the sanitation target by over half a billion people. It projects that in all, 2.4 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – will be without access to basic sanitation in 2015.
What does that number mean? Well, it’s over twice the population of Africa, nearly three times that of Europe, and about half that of Asia. In short, it’s a lot of people without access to basic sanitation measures like toilets and a way to wash hands with soap and clean water.
When we talk about health, we talk a lot about the transmission of HIV and the prevalence of malaria, but it’s important to keep in mind the role basic sanitation plays. Diarrhoea, the third biggest killer of children in developing countries (responsible for 11% of all childhood deaths), is most often caused by poor sanitation.
Other big diseases among adults and children like cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma, are also common thanks to lack of sanitation. That’s why the WHO and UNICEF report is calling on the global community to join together and keep working to improve sanitation even after the Millennium Development Goal deadline of 2015 is past.
Do more. Donate your Twitter or Facebook accounts to Water.org and let them share facts and stats about the global water crisis to your social networks.
Mar 22nd, 2013 11:00 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
To celebrate World Water Day we have a guest post from Jonny McKay of Excellent Development. Excellent Development support communities in Kenya to build Sand Dams which provide clean water for life and the opportunity to grow more food to eat, store and sell.
“If a child was born on the way to or from drawing water he was named Mwanzia, which means ‘born on the way’”. Jane Kingongo, Ithime self-help group, Kenya.
For women in the world’s rural drylands, life is defined by the burden of collecting water. For the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, it is a chore with no relief. Even when pregnant, women must trek over long distances in order to provide their families with water.
The strain of this arduous task has terrible health consequences for women. Often alone, some give birth on the journey to or from water points. In the drylands of Ukambani, Kenya, the children of these women are called Mwanzia, which means ‘born on the way.’
We recently spoke to Jane Kinongo, a member of the Ithime Self Help Group in Kenya, who told us something of the impacts water insecurity has for women in her community.
Jane said: “As women it was our duty to fetch water using our back. We would even go to fetch water while pregnant. Sometimes we would be forced to fetch water even when having labour pains. Sometimes someone would miscarry or have a still birth at home due to the long distance.”
About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid drylands like the area where Jane lives. More than 38% of people living in these drylands suffer with water insecurity – meaning that they have less than 1,000 m3 per capita and do not have a reliable source of clean water close to home.
For Jane, this used to mean walking up to 6km carrying 20kg of water on her back each day. It is estimated that more than 152 million hours of women and girls’ time is consumed every day in the same way — collecting water to meet their families’ basic needs. Because of this, millions of women are inhibited from accomplishing little more than survival.
With the same access to resources as men, women could grow 30% more food and reduce global hunger by 150 million people. Yet, wherever they work, they face constraints that reduce their productivity and limit their contributions to the well-being of their families, communities and countries, agricultural production, and economic growth.
Jane’s self-help group is a cooperative of eight women and one man, supported by Excellent Development. They came together in 2009 to overcome their water insecurity by constructing Sand Dams, planting trees and digging terraces. With her self-help group, she has helped build seven Sand Dams, bringing water within 30 minutes for families in her community.
Jane said: “Since the construction of the [Sand] Dams, life has changed dramatically because we now draw water closer to our homes. The health problems [women] faced then have ceased to exist…now the women can rest for three months after giving birth…the problems faced [before] are never.”
More than one in six people worldwide – 894 million – don’t have access to improved water sources.
But, for those children born on the way, women like Jane are building water security and a new way of life in rural Kenya. A life in which women no longer give birth alone, far from home, on a journey to find water.
Mar 22nd, 2013 9:21 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Consider this: the water in your toilet bowl is cleaner than the water 1 billion people in the world have to drink.
It’s a shocking statistic, and more people in the world need to know about the current global water crisis.
Today is World Water Day, and we’re asking you to donate your Twitter or Facebook account to Water.org for the day.
They will tweet and post a fact about water from your social media accounts, helping to educate your friends and family about water. Click below to get started!
Nov 19th, 2012 12:48 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
The following is a guest blog from Fleur Anderson, Head of Campaigns at Water Aid in support of World Toilet Day 2012.
World Toilet Day is on 19th November and sounds a bit of a joke, but this is half the problem. Sanitation is a word we don’t often use, and toilets are something not talked about enough, but action around globe on World Toilet Day hopes to start to overcome this. It is an incredible fact that 1 in 3 women and girls – that’s 1.25 billion – lack safe and adequate sanitation and of those 526 million don’t have a toilet at all.
Imagine arriving at your workplace and finding there was no toilet and none anywhere nearby. Imagine the state of your neighbourhood if no-one had a toilet. Now imagine having to pick your way through the streets and parks trying to find somewhere to go, which would be especially frightening at night. This is the daily reality for 1 in 3 women worldwide, and a new short film hopes to bring this home – do have a look at www.wateraid.org/1in3.
Photo: Katherine Mulemba, 60, has to rely on neighbours and bars to find a latrine to use. “I have no other option. I feel bad. I feel embarrassed, but what can I do? My landlord tried to have a latrine built but the guy who was employed to do it ran away with the money.”
Lack of sanitation affects men and women, of course, but women are particularly at risk of shame, fear and even violence from having to walk from their homes to find a place to go to the toilet. WaterAid knows this from speaking with many of the women we work with, but it is an aspect of the global sanitation crisis rarely highlighted.
This World Toilet Day WaterAid commissioned a poll of women living across five slums in Lagos, Nigeria. The results show that one in five had first or second hand experience of verbal harassment and intimidation, or had been threatened or physically assaulted in the last year when going to the toilet. Anecdotal evidence from communities suggests that the scale of the problem may be much larger than this.
Other studies from Uganda, Kenya, India and the Solomon Islands show that such experiences of fear, indignity and violence are common place wherever women lack access to safe and adequate sanitation.
Sanitation remains a very neglected area of government attention around the world, and this is why its important to show how crucial toilets are to achieving women’s rights and development. Lack of toilets also affects productivity, livelihoods and health, and government investment in sanitation is proven to tackle extreme poverty and preventable diseases. For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
Check out the new film at www.wateraid.org/1in3 and take the pledge, and you can add your voice to thousands of people around the world who are pushing their governments to keep the promises already made but not delivered on, and to ramp up their funding and delivery of sanitation services – especially to the poorest communities. It is also the first WaterAid film I know of to feature china figurines and fluffy pink slippers, so have a look and see what you think!
Mar 12th, 2012 9:56 PM UTC
By Paulena Papagiannis
It’s been a good few days for Millennium Development Goals. Not one but two targets were reported as met last week, which means that we have reason to celebrate. First, the Economist reported on March 3 that global poverty in 2010 was half the level it was in 1990, meaning that in spite of the worldwide economic downturn, fewer people are living in absolute poverty. And on March 6, the United Nations reported that in 2010, 89 percent of the world’s population enjoyed access to safe drinking water — 1 percent more than the 88 percent requirement published at the Millennium Summit in 2000.
These accomplishments translate to much more than a mere check mark on the world’s proverbial to-do list. For the first time since 1981, the number of people living in absolute poverty is dropping — which means better opportunities for longer, healthier lives the world over. The fulfillment of the safe drinking water goal is crucial: Most deaths from diarrheal disease — which claims 3,000 children’s lives every day — are due to poor drinking water and shortcomings in sanitation and hygiene. As more people gain access to good water, fewer will suffer from diarrheal disease.
But even as we break out the balloons, we must keep in mind that these great achievements represent only the beginning. It’s terrific that there’s been such progress benefiting those who live on less than $1.25 per day, but according to the Economist, roughly 2.44 billion people still live on less than $2 per day, with 1.16 billion living on between $1.25 and $2 per day. Let’s take advantage of the momentum we’ve built and continue fighting for what’s right: happy, healthy lives for everyone.
A big thank you to all our ONE members for all you do to make the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a reality. If you need a refresher on your MDGs, you can brush up here and, as always, feel free to offer your questions and comments below.
Sep 16th, 2011 4:46 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
Ahead of an important UN Meeting next week on desertification, Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), explains why the issue is so important.
Imagine you’re holding a one minute sand timer. Turn it over, and let the sand flow.
Consider that, in the single minute it takes for the sand to fall, 23 hectares of land will be lost to drought and desertification. That’s approximately 20 football pitches, per minute.
Over the course of a year, that equates to 24 billion tons of fertile soil, the most significant, non-renewable natural resource we have. That’s 24 billion tons, per year.
While the remaining sand piles up, consider the global impact this loss of fertile land has on water and food security. Over the next 25 years land degradation could reduce global food productivity by as much as 12%, leading to a 30% increase in world food prices.
We’ve all seen the impact of rising food prices in the cost of our supermarket shopping baskets. But if you are in the bottom billion of the world’s poor, of course, this is more than an economic annoyance at the checkout. As a poor farmer in the Horn of Africa, you watch as your crops wither from lack of rain, your once productive land turns to dust and your family goes hungry.
Thankfully, there is a solution. We need to stop working against the natural environment and do something positive to mainstream sustainable land management techniques into global policy and local practice. In delivering food and water security, these techniques will help us take genuine steps towards combating global poverty.
The United Nations General Assembly will meet on 20 September in New York. Preparations to discuss desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, are thankfully gathering pace. We can all see the importance of a unified emergency response when drought and famine strike – the situation in the Horn of Africa is testament to that. Leaders also need to take bold steps to ensure the best land management techniques are adopted for global food security, poverty reduction and environmentally sustainable growth.
Now is the time for leaders to commit and deliver. In choosing to protect land against further degradation, they will build community resilience against the crippling effects of drought and famine.
The side-effects of failing to act decisively with sustainable solutions are increasingly horrifying. Mass hunger, social tension, unemployment, migration, political instability and armed conflict will rise in countries where land is under pressure. We all need to embrace a strategy around prevention that secures the health and productivity of land for the well-being of present and future generations.
In reality, eradicating hunger will take longer than one minute. Sustainable Land Management techniques require a period of time before the benefits are felt. That’s why we need to start now. With the help of ONE supporters, we can ensure these techniques are mainstreamed into global policy and local practice.
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. It focuses on drylands, which cover 41% of the Earth and are in habited by over 2 billion people. Drylands account for 44% of the world’s cultivated ecosystems and have provided 30% of all the world’s cultivated plants. However, 8 of the world’s 25 biodiversity ‘hotspots’ are in the drylands and up to one fifth of the drylands have been steadily degraded since the 1980s. The Convention’s 194 Parties are dedicated to improving the living conditions of the world’s poorest 1.2 billion resident in the drylands, to maintaining and restoring the land’s productivity, and to mitigating the effects of drought.
Oct 15th, 2010 5:09 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
This post is part of our contribution to Change.org’s Blog Action Day 2010, an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers with the goal of sparking discussion and collective action. This year, more than 3,000 bloggers are writing about water, a global issue that affects all of us.
In order to celebrate Blog Action Day to the fullest, we decided to highlight some of the amazing work that our friends in the nonprofit community are doing on the topic of water and sanitation in the developing world.
Although this issue isn’t the prettiest (we’re talking sewage, diarrheal diseases and toilets, here), it’s an important one. Everyone has a right to safe drinking water — yet 884 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.
With that being said, here are five things that you can do from your computer to keep water in mind:
1. Watch a short documentary made by award-winning journalists:
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting takes a refreshingly candid look at the sanitation situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where almost 4 million people are living without basic access to clean water or toilets. We wrote about their amazing multimedia coverage and short documentaries a while back during World Water Week, but it’s worth taking another look.
2. Download a sweet poster from Blood:Water Mission and stick it on your fridge:
Blood:Water Mission, a grassroots organization founded by rock band Jars of Clay, empowers communities to work together against HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Their printable posters are not only beautifully designed, but inspiring and informational. “Two weeks without your coffee, tea, milk or soda can provide people in Africa with safe water in Africa for the rest of their lives,” says the poster pictured above.
3. Grasp the gravity of the issue in less than 15 seconds:
This moving video clip by Water.org depicts a young girl in rural Africa struggling to stand … because she’s got a 44-pound container of water on her back. I guarantee that you’ll feel moved by this video in just the first five seconds.
4. Look at the water. I mean really look at it:
You can’t possibly fathom what “contaminated water” means until you actually look at it. This video from charity: water, a non-profit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, depicts a tap that churns out mud. The narrator can hardly believe it. “This is your water?” he asks, “You’ve got to be kidding. You must be.”
5. Make the connection between hygiene and hunger
It isn’t the easiest relationship to understand, but many times, children become malnourished because of problems at home related to sanitation and hygiene. Action Against Hunger has a great Q&A on their website with a staffer on the ground who works with families to improve their health and avoid waterborne diseases.
Water is a huge issue for us here at ONE, and we’re glad that Blog Action Day gives us a another reason to talk about it. Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation facilities could transform the lives of millions — but knowing how and why is a key part of being a smart and informed advocate for the world’s poorest people.
Jan 11th, 2010 11:14 AM UTC
By David Cole
Less than 5% of irrigable land in Africa is currently being irrigated, which means a huge loss of potential cultivation and production of food.
But as UNICEF’s Indrias Getachew explains, an innovative scheme in Ethiopia shows how simple investments can transform agricultural production. This is the kind of project that could get much more funding if donor countries make good on their promises at last year’s G8 summit to invest US$20 billion into agriculture and food security over the next 3 years.
Hear what Indrias had to say when he spoke to ONE:
Aug 28th, 2008 2:40 PM UTC
By Chris Scott
John Sauer of Water Advocates sent us his op-ed that was featured in The Local regarding World Water Week.
Finding the toilet in Stockholm
Last week a mix of water and sanitation experts gathered for World Water Weekin Stockholm, Sweden to mull over the world’s biggest public health crisis. The problem is that not enough people paid attention.
Each year over 2 million deaths could be prevented with improvements related to access to safe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene. To put that in perspective, we have it within our grasp to prevent the equivalent deaths of 10 Asian tsunamis or 1,000 Hurricane Katrinas. Yet a major effort—like those that have been launched to address HIV/AIDS and malaria—to tackle the global drinking water and sanitation crisis remains elusive. The scope of this disconnect is baffling; water- and sanitation-related diseases (like relatively-easy-to-prevent diarrhea) kill more children each year than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.
One reason why there hasn’t been a Herculean effort to address this global scourge is that we in the water and sanitation sector are not doing enough to influence how this issue is understood by others. We have not been proactive or coordinated enough to frame the issue to the media and the wider development community in an action-oriented “this-can-be-done” tone.
Mar 18th, 2008 2:35 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
ONE has partners on the ground in Turkey for the 5th World Water Forum. Our partners will be providing guest blog posts throughout the week to keep us updated on the meeting’s proceedings. Stay tuned for more in this series!
As I was quoted in the Associated Press the other day,“In America, diarrhea is bad takeout, in Chad, it’s the difference between life and death.”
I’m here at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul to help coordinate a journalist workshop on the health aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene. Journalists have come from as far away as Indonesia, Laos and Peru to learn about this massive, but surmountable, challenge.
We want to bring attention to this under-reported issue, as more children die of diarrhea and other water and sanitation related diseases than die of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Meanwhile, 80% of research and development funding for diseases that disproportionately affect the poor is spent on these “big three” diseases. We aim to point out this disparity, not to take away funding from the more well-known diseases, but to see that more resources go to solving the water and sanitation crisis.
What is also unique about preventing and treating diarrhea is that affordable solutions are available now. Ceramic water filters, rope pumps, and ecosan toilets are all effective and sustainable solutions.
Sessions this week at the World Water Forum are going to focus on vast array of topics, such as new technologies, entrepreneurship and child health. The issue of poor water and sanitation in schools will also be discussed by UNICEF. An astounding 50% of schools in the developing world do not have access to water and sanitation.
PATH, WSSCC (Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council), and Water Advocates are a few of the organizers of the journalist forum. We hope that the workshop and forum will increase attention on the health aspects of the water and sanitation crisis. With 5,000 people dying each day due to dirty water, and poor sanitation and hygiene, this cannot wait.
-John Sauer, Water Advocates
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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