Friday, 18 December 2009

Africa - The facts.

Clean water is essential for life, but one in eight of the world's population does not have access to it. This, and lack of safe sanitation, result in over two million people dying from water-related diseases every year. The lack of clean water close to people's homes also affects people's time, livelihoods and quality of life.

Sanitation can be defined as access to safe, clean and effective human urine and faeces disposal facilities. Worldwide, 2.5 billion people live without this essential service and the resulting diarrhoeal diseases kill almost 5,000 children a day.

Hygiene education
To gain the full benefits of safe water and sanitation communities also need to know about the links between diseases and unsafe hygiene practices. Hygiene education focuses on issues such as personal hygiene - the simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by a third.

Poor sanitation and bad hygiene can result in the contamination of water sources with millions of disease causing micro-organisms. These micro-organisms work in different ways to incapacitate infected individuals.

The most obvious benefit of access to safe water and sanitation is a reduction in disease. But the economic position of poor families is often dramatically improved when they gain access to these basic services.

Problems for women
In developing countries poor water and sanitation affects the lives of women and children the most. It impacts on women's time, health, education and family relations.

Problems for children
Without safe water and sanitation, life for children in developing countries can be very hard. They are often at risk from disease and are unable to attend school.

Problems for the elderly
In many of the African countries where WaterAid works life expectancy is frighteningly low. Those who do live into old age face increasing problems as collecting heavy loads of water puts further strains on their health.

Problems for the disabled
The struggle to gain access to clean, safe water and basic sanitation facilities is even greater for those contending with physical disability. Collecting water is so much harder, and often impossible, for those in wheelchairs, the blind or simply frail and infirm as a result of illness or old age.

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