Water, are living a life without access
Water, clean water, is crucial for everyone to survive. Poor and developing countries like that of Sub-Saharan Africa experiences this realization the most due to their lack of access to the element itself. According to Everyday Health, a digital media company which produces health and wellness content, water helps your body to regulate a healthy temperature and maintain bodily functions.
It is the most basic component of life that keeps you and me alive, yet not everyone has the same availability to it. The current water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa is affecting so many of the lives of its people, not for better, but for worst. It attacks the education of children, the health of citizens, causes hunger, and enables an endless cycle of poverty. This can be fixed by spreading awareness of the problem and the organizations that are working towards ending it.
Let’s start off by discussing what the water crisis actually is. The water crisis, simply put, is a scarcity of water. Furthermore, though, it is the lack of enough water, quantity, and the lack of access to clean water, quality. The Water Project, a non-profiting organization aimed at providing sustainable water and sanitation to Sub-Saharan African communities, states that this crisis is also a matter of both an economic and physical scarcity, as finding a reliable water source is often time-consuming and/or even too expensive for growing countries. Other times, it may just naturally be insufficient.
The lack of water may not seem as urgent or important, but as it is overlooked and ignored, people are dying and opportunities are missed while they search for the invaluable thing. Often times the struggles that developing countries go through can be solved with access to a clean and sustainable water source, as the lack of water is a root cause for so many diseases and sanitary obstacles to begin with. To better understand this dilemma, let’s put it into statistics. According to Water.org, another non-profit developmental aid organization, “Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water; 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet”.
844 million people are living a life without access to safe water. And a staggering 2.4 billion do not have access to proper sanitation. And since the lack of clean water means there is little access to sanitation or any sense of cleanliness, common day illnesses to serious diseases are severely more difficult to cure or even cope with. Frankly, water is too important for these communities not to have. Solving Sub-Saharan Africa’s water crisis will undoubtedly contribute to its children’s educational growth. UNICEF, a United Nation program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries, reveals that it is very common for students to miss valuable class time to fetch water, or even to care for sick siblings and parents.
Many water-related illness has already caused a large number of students to become orphans, leading them to drop out to find work for their survival or even for dependent families. “The lack of clean water has serious effects on students’ academic performance and attendance rates. The lack of safe water can cause even the best students to lose momentum as they deal with stomach pains and diarrhea from disease and hunger” (The Water Project). With easy access to clean and safe drinking water, these students are faced with less pressure on being responsible for both their and their families’ well beings. With clean water, people are less likely to become ill and the younger generations do not have to worry about not having enough time or energy for school. They will have a greater opportunity towards their rightful education. This burden of the water crisis is especially harder for girls and women because of their natural bodies and social responsibilities.
“If schools do not have proper toilets, girls drop out once they reach puberty. Further, it is typically the responsibility of the women to fetch water thus limiting their access to both education and business opportunities” (The Water Project). Once they reach puberty, girls and women require clean water to keep hygienic behaviors. This is difficult when the situation presented to them does not offer the ease of access to this necessity. Furthermore, women are deprived of all sorts of opportunity when their social responsibilities require them to retrieve water from far away on a daily basis. A Huffington Post article shows that these female responsibilities require them to carry, daily, an average of 5 gallons of water (40 pounds) three and a half miles from and to their homes.
Eleanor Allen, CEO of Water for People says that “This directly affects girls’ education and women’s ability to work and tend to their families, which negatively impacts their quality of life and limits their opportunity for progress” (Why is the Water Crisis a Women’s Issue and the top Global Risks Over the Next Decade? ). Many doors would open in women’s favor if clean water was easier to access. Clean water can allow for a relieve in hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa. Without access to a reliable water source, food is harder to grow. “84% of people who don’t have access to improved water, also live in rural areas, where they live principally through subsistence agriculture” (The Water Project). The Voss Foundation, committed to raise fundings for Sub-Saharan communities with WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), states that water and hunger have a direct relationship. Because agriculture is the main food source of rural areas, an easy and reliable source of water will really aid in relieving a lot of hunger. This isn’t just a theory or hypothesis.
Growth and changes have been seen in small communities in Sub-Saharan Africa that have received reliable water systems and sources. “A small investment in a clean, safe source of water can have a huge impact on both crop production and the nutrition of a community. In fact, one of the most encouraging things we find when we return to sites where wells have been installed is the many small gardens that have popped up all around” (The Water Project).
Small improvements like the ones above are the first step toward a developing Sub-Saharan Africa. Clean and safe water is essential to healthy living. Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. “In developing countries, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.
1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease” (The Water Project). Water-related illness are a leading cause of death in developing countries. Easier access to clean and safe water cannot be seen as an economic burden but must be seen as a necessity to maintain human lives. In Diseases in Relation with Inadequate Water Supply, an article by Water for Africa, a series of illness related to water is listed. Every sip of dirty water has the potential to end a life. “Tiny worms and bacteria live in water naturally. Most of the bacteria are pretty harmless.
But some of them can cause devastating disease in humans. And since they can’t be seen, they can’t be avoided” (The Water Project). Developing countries do not have the luxury of advanced filtering water systems to help them avoid famine. A lot of detrimental illness and diseases like typhoid fever and cholera are still largely abundant in developing countries and the case of dirty water most likely results in heightening the suffering of those who are sick. One of the greatest causes of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of access of clean drinking water because this crisis is the root of so many problems like hunger, health, and education, solving it will improve Sub-Saharan Africa on a huge scale. Without clean water, the possibility of breaking out of the cycle of poverty is incredibly slim. Putting an end to the water crisis once and for all will take an inconsiderable amount of time and investment, but it will benefit these growing countries by lifting so many of its struggles and allow it focus on more of what will do more good for communities all over.
It will mean the beginning of its developing journey.