If you live in a place where water is available at the turn of a faucet, it can be easy to take this privilege for granted. While we have easy access to this vital resource, it’s important to be aware that many around the world are not so fortunate.
At Blood:Water, we are committed to helping those in less fortunate circumstances, and wish to encourage others to do the same. This World Water Day, we’re giving you three facts about water in sub-Saharan Africa to help you understand the difficulties facing families in communities where clean water is scarce.
3 FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WATER
1. Only 61% of sub-Saharan Africa has access to clean water.
On the whole, Africa has made great strides towards achieving widespread clean water access. However, the region of sub-Saharan Africa has not. Of the 844 million people across the globe without access to clean water, 37% live in sub-Saharan Africa. On a more tangible note, sub-Saharan Africa has failed to make its UN Millenium Goal for water access (75% coverage) and has been plateaued at 61% for some time.
2. Water-related illnesses are incredibly common.
This is particularly true because of the high usage of surface water for drinking, along with collecting standing water for use at home. Almost two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa consistently uses surface water, often without filtering or disinfecting.
This leads to outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, while storing surface water allows mosquitoes to breed, increasing rates of malaria. This is particularly true in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS is prevalent and/or healthcare may be inadequate for community needs, waterborne diseases are truly life-threatening.
3. Access to water is highly inequitable.
Despite the high numbers of inaccessibility to clean water across sub-Saharan Africa, it is substantially worse in rural versus urban regions. Almost 90% of wealthy households have access to improved water sources, and about 60% of households have piped water.
Contrasted to rural areas, where fewer than 50% have access to improved water sources, and the poorest 40% have no in-home access to water (Borgen Project). Given the prevalence of HIV in these rural areas, the extreme lack of access to clean water is a huge problem.
WHAT OUR PARTNERS DO ABOUT THESE ISSUES
Water is a necessity for life, and large populations in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe water. At Blood:Water, we work directly with African partners in these regions who are dedicating themselves to mitigating these problems, to bring about lasting change to the communities in which they live and work. With unique insight and knowledge of the local context, our partners select the technology that will be most effective in the community where they are working based on environmental, cultural, economic, and technological factors.
Blood:Water is also committed to incorporating complete WASH standards in all of the work we support, because it makes progress sustainable for the next generation. The three areas of WASH – water, sanitation, and hygiene – work together to strengthen one another and maximize health impact at the community level. For instance, the impact of clean water is dependent upon access to and use of latrines and safe hand-washing behaviors. And when local leaders rise up to form water committees to lead WASH solutions and promote health from within their own communities, there is no end to the transformation that takes place.
Improved practices are driven by technological and behavioral interventions at the household and community levels. Children are educated and engaged in the benefits of proper hand-washing and latrine use while in school, and they take these practices home to educate their families as well. Community Health Workers educate and monitor women who are pregnant, helping them understand the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene through pregnancy, childbirth, and for their entire home and family.
This World Water Day, I hope that you would consider these facts about water and donate to the cause, making a difference in the lives of others. Our goal is to raise $75,000 to provide clean water for communities in Africa. Thanks to a special matching grant, if you donate before March 31, your gift will be MATCHED – dollar for dollar – up to $25,000!