Health Risks: Lack of clean water leads to many mosquito and water borne illnesses. Improper sanitation and treatment of waste leads to the death of a child every 20 seconds
3.41 million people die each year from contaminated water, poor sanitation and hygiene-related causes each year.*
Illiteracy and unnecessary risk: Having access to water can mean the difference between whether or not a child goes to school that day. Women and children (especially girls) bear most of the burdento collect water on a daily basis. Also, if women and children do not have to travel long distances to reach a source of water they will not be put into the unnecessary dangers that surround them that are associated with war, human trafficking, and other dangers. Not to mention the huge amount of productivity and working time that is lost (estimates are around 200 million hours daily around the world) because they must travel approximately 3 to 4 miles for water. Some statistics show that 11% more girls attend school when potable water is available and are able to continue their education. Illiteracy and lack of education only serves to perpetuate the cycle of poverty that developing countries face. Creating an environment where women can work and children can receive an education is imperative in order to break this cycle.
With the provision of a source of clean and safe water, there can be higher productivity, more education, less disease and death, and more agriculture and livelihood which helps to build more successful communities and better living conditions.
There is one other major risk that is associated with water, and it has a lot to do with man-made drought and the impacts that may occur with increased pressure on water sources. I am going to talk about that in my next post.
*World Health Organization. (2008). Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.