In rich countries, like Australia, clean water is available at the turn of a tap. There may be water shortage concerns, but children in Australia don’t die for want of a glass of clean water.
Not having access to clean water has dramatic, long term consequences. Lack of clean, safe drinking water leads to an increased chance of diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea. Adults who get sick have less time to prepare food, to work, or to start a business. Children who do not die of the water-bourne diseases are often too ill to go to school, meaning they grow up with less choices, in poverty, with poor education and poor health and no way to break the cycle3.
Handle With Care International believes that access to clean water is a basic human right, and one of our new initiatives is the Clean Water Project.
Studies have shown that a success of a water project depends heavily on how significant the improvements in water quality and convenience are. The Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd editionreport, argues that water programs are unlikely to have significant health benefits unless they also have significant convenience benefits, leading to behavioural change4.
The success of a project should also consider how the improvements to water infrastructure are maintained over time. Evidence suggests that a significant number of water improvement projects are abandoned and fall into disrepair5.
It’s also the case that water is not the only, or necessarily the main way that relevant diseases are transmitted.
Handle With Care International’s Clean Water Project was kicked off this year during our Indonesian Aid Trip and consists of a four-pronged approach:
Our team conducted research and collected water samples to assess the quality of accessible drinking in two slum areas in Denpasar. The results of these samples will be collated in order to establish the best way to provide these communities with long term, sustainable fresh water solutions.
- Distribution of Life Straws
Created by Vestergaard-Frandsen, these water filters filter up to 181,000 litres of water, enough to support a family of five with microbiologically clean drinking water for three years.
- Community Hygiene Projects
Last year our trial ran for two weeks and showed many signs of success. A priority of our April 2012 Aid Trip will be the reintegration of safe garbage disposal techniques.
Research has shown that without accompanying education, many water and hygiene initiatives never achieve their aims. Over the next two years, our water project includes a strong sanitation and hygiene educational emphasis which we expect will have an immediate impact on the lives we are trying to improve.
1 World Health Organisation (www.who.org)
2 World Vision Australia School Resources Water and Poverty
3 World Vision Australia Laos Consequences Chart 2007
4 published for the World Bank in collaboration with the World Health Organisation by over 300 contributors
5 www.givewell.orgWater Infrastructure, In-depth program review
6 Image from UNICEF, “Keep It Clean”