Yesterday, we covered how much of the world population lacks access to safely managed sanitation services. It’s obvious why access to clean drinking water is an absolute necessity for life, but sometimes it is not as obvious why sanitation is key to life as well.
Today, we are going to cover why having access to water, sanitization and hygiene, together collectively known as WASH is vital to survival and standard of living.
Access to water
Water equals life. We all need clean drinking water to survive. WHO estimates that 2 billion people drink contaminated water, which leads to various diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. This results in the deaths of both adults and children.
We need water to survive. There’s not much to say beyond that when explaining why it matters that 2 billion people are without access to safely managed water services.
Access to Sanitization
It’s no coincidence that in most floor plans that the toilet is not in the kitchen. We like to keep our business separate from our food and drink. This is to prevent contamination. Unfortunately, about half the planet doesn’t have proper access to sanitization services.
Managed sanitization is the procedure of keeping human waste separate from drinking water. Areas without managed sanitization are left to rid their waste through systems like open latrines or even open defecation. This results in waters being contaminated with human waste and allows disease to be passed through water.
This also impacts any locally grown food. Both horticulture and animal agriculture can be impacted by these contaminated water supplies. When humans consume these foods, they are likely to be exposed to bacteria and disease.
Access to hygiene
For many of us in the western world, we were taught to wash our hands after using the restroom, to brush our teeth in the morning and evening, and to bathe appropriately. First and foremost, it’s important to remember these are privileges; not everyone has the opportunity to do these actions because of lack of access to clean water.
Good hygiene is encouraged because it helps slow the spread of disease. That’s why the CDC constantly recommends washing our hands. Hygiene is imperative to keeping healthy; billions of people are without the means of maintaining strict hygiene standards.
Many of us have a soap dispenser on our sinks or maybe we have our alcohol hand wipes, but so many people world wide just don’t have these things. Cleaning themselves off in water already contaminated only helps the spread of disease and death.
Tomorrow, we will discuss all that we can do to help spread WASH rather than disease.