Living in the UK, it’s easy to take a clean and reliable water supply for granted. Whether you’re stepping into the shower or making a cup of tea, you expect safe water on demand. Not everyone benefits from such easy access to water, millions of people around the world are at risk. At risk of illness and even death because of poor water sanitation.
A number of organisations and charities like Human Appeal are involved in projects to help tackle the poor sanitation problem. Currently Human Appeal has a water, sanitation and hygiene fund that raises money for a range of projects. These projects are currently in countries such as Palestine, Nepal, Syria, Senegal and Bangladesh. Donating to these projects, you’re ensuring that others have access to clean water. Highlighting the importance of this issue, here are three shocking water sanitation facts.
Nearly two million people die each year because of unsafe water
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly two million people around the globe die each year because of unsafe water. That’s almost four times the population of England. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are linked to a whole range of potentially deadly diseases, including dysentery, hepatitis A, polio, typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea. The risks associated with poor water hygiene are particularly acute in healthcare facilities. Worldwide, around 15 per cent of patients develop infections when they are in hospital, and this percentage is much higher in low-income countries where sanitation is worse.
Around 260 million people are infected with schistosomiasis
You may never have heard of schistosomiasis, but around 260 million people are affected by this health problem, WHO figures reveal. Also known as bilharzia, this is an infection that’s caused by a freshwater parasitic worm that buries into the body through the skin. It’s most common in Africa, but the worm also lives in areas within the Caribbean, South America, Asia and the Middle East. When people first get schistosomiasis by coming into contact with infected water, they often don’t experience any symptoms. However, the parasite can live in the body for a period of many years and it can cause damage to organs including the liver, bladder and kidneys. Without suitable treatment, these organs can be damaged permanently.
Improved water supplies could prevent 4% of the world’s disease burden
Improving water supplies could prevent around four per cent of the world’s disease burden, the WHO suggests. Often, the steps needed to cut water-related health problems are simple; they just require investment. Technologies like public taps, piped household water, protected dug wells and rainwater collection can play a major role in the provision of safe water supplies. Meanwhile, improved sanitation can be achieved with the help of measures such as pour or flush toilets and hygiene education.
If you’d like to play your part in cutting the health risks associated with unsafe water, it’s worth doing some research into the various different charity initiatives being run.