Water in the developing world: how do people access it?

Water in the developing world: how do people access it?

“Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.”

Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water is the basis for all life, yet dirty water is the top cause of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, and the second leading cause of child death in the rest of the world.

Unlocking access to clean water is so vital because it triggers a chain reaction: once the health problems associated with contaminated water are eliminated, people are freed from worry, but more importantly, they can be more productive and break the cycle of poverty. Not having to walk miles and miles a day just to get water grants people the freedom to pursue work and education; a constant supply allows crops to be properly hydrated in otherwise parched lands. Health services can focus on other ailments, rather than being constantly held back having to treat and re-treat patients infected with water-borne diseases.

So what are some of the ways that water can be accessed in developing countries?

  • In many parts of the world, lakes and rivers provide much of the usable water for the population. Four hundred million people, for instance, rely on the River Ganges watershed in India for their daily H2O.
  • In areas where rainfall isn’t reliable and there isn’t any water infrastructure, such as Kabul, Afghanistan, groundwater can be the main water source. Groundwater is defined as water held underground in the soil, or in pores and crevices in rock. Supplies can be tapped into with wells and pumps, but will often contain more minerals than surface water, so requires treatment. If they can afford the fuel, parents will often boil the water before infants drink it to remove impurities.
  • In some villages where water access is particularly limited like Melbena, Ethiopia, water trucks are relied upon to deliver fresh water to residents. While it works temporarily, this is not a viable long-term solution.

Water will only get more scarce as the population increases, and finding sustainable solutions to this enduring problem is paramount. The issue must be addressed in order to keep releasing poor communities from the poverty trap which prevents them from progressing and achieving their full potential.

Main image: FMSC at Flickr Creative Commons

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Drought in Brazil, polluted rivers in India and closed schools in the UK: the biggest water problems in today’s news

Drought in Brazil, polluted rivers in India and closed schools in the UK: the biggest water problems in today's news

Every day, a quick Google search will show you that water troubles are worryingly abundant across the world. Here are some of the top stories on the web today.

There is perhaps no other resource in the world at once so valuable and so taken for granted as water”

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid, blogs for the Huffington Post UK on the importance of water.

“In Brazil’s biggest city, a record dry season and ever-increasing demand for water has led to a punishing drought.”

Wyre Davies, the BBC’s Rio de Janeiro correspondent, reports on the appalling drought affecting the city – despite the fact that Brazil produces an estimated 12% of the world’s fresh water.

 rio

“Middleton residents and businesses were left with no water or poor pressure … Most Middleton schools have closed for the day due to health and safety issues.”

Schools in Middleton, UK forced to close due to problems with local water pumps, reports the Manchester Evening News. When the water stops, everything stops.

Singh, whom doctors say will soon be blind, has always drunk ground water drawn from communal handpumps that experts say is highly toxic and responsible for maiming scores of residents young and old.”

Many rivers in India are so heavily polluted that they cause enormous health problems for those drinking nearby, reports the Daily Mail.

river 1

“Nearly all the workers are devoted to a single, enormously distracting problem: coping with the vast amount of water that becomes contaminated after it is pumped into the reactors to keep the melted radioactive fuel inside from overheating.”

Attempts to continue with the vast cleanup of a tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant in Tokyo are being complicated by the issue of contaminated water, the Daily Mail reports.

Main image: Francisco Anzola at Flickr Creative Commons

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