One in five people live without safe water.Yet here in New Zealand, clean water is so plentiful and easily available that we simply take it for granted. In the world’s poorest countries, ill-health from drinking dirty water is one of the most serious threats to human life. Despite great improvements, diseases caused by unclean water and inadequate sanitation claim the lives of over one million children each year. Most cases can be prevented or treated. In the absence of safe water and sanitation, people find it impossible to escape the downward spiral of poverty and disease. A lack of water and sanitation strongly impacts on the fulfilment of other human rights, such as health, work and an education.
- Water is key to health and quality of life.
- Water is key to escaping poverty
- Water is key to sustainable development
- The right to water is essential for equality
Life without safe waterWithout a safe source nearby, women and children in particular spend a great deal of time collecting water. For women this means less time spent working and caring for their children; for children it means less time for schooling. Without basic sanitation, many women are forced to wait until darkness falls in order to relieve themselves with at least some privacy, putting themselves in considerable danger. Many families living in poverty spend a significantly greater proportion of their income on water than do those in developed countries. Prices paid to water vendors in developing countries are often ten times more than the tap price. When water and sanitation are provided to communities they can begin to spend their insufficient incomes on food, healthcare and education.
Sustainable solutionsOften the solution to providing safe drinking water is not complicated – the engineering requires just some know-how, a few materials and a bit of hard work. The Oxfam Water for Survival Programme uses technologies that:
- are affordable
- are appropriate to local conditions
- use water efficiently
- use local materials
- local communities can operate and maintain in the long term
- One billion people in our world live without safe drinking water.
- Today, 2.6 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without basic sanitation.
- Diarrhoea kills more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- Dirty water is killing more people than wars and other violence.
- There are over one million children dying every year from dirty water and poor sanitation.
- When combined, safe water, sanitation and hygiene reduce the number of deaths caused by diarrhoea by 65 percent.
- The minimum estimated amount of safe water every individual needs is 20 to 50 litres every day.
- The average person in the developing world uses 10 litres of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking. This is the same amount used in the average flush of a New Zealand toilet.
- New Zealanders each use between 160-400 litres per day.
- The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is commonly 20kg, the same as the average NZ airport luggage allowance.
- 40 billion working hours are spent carrying water each year in Africa.
- 443 million school days are lost due to water related diseases.
- 11 percent more girls attend school when sanitation is available.
- Oxfam projects providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene education cost on average just $45 per head.
Your support can go a long way
- $35 can provide a tap stand so five families can access safe drinking water.
- $80 can provide fittings for a village water system.
- $95 can help provide a cement base for a shower for five families.
- $250 can help train local villagers to educate their community in the health risks associated with open defecation and unclean water