Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Demand A Clean Water System

Africa has now 19 cities with populations of more than one million inhabitants. Because of slow economic growth, lack of effective development policies and limited resources, the development of infrastructure has not kept up with the increasing needs for shelter and services in growing urban populations.

Poor hygiene, inadequate management of waste and lack of sanitation facilities are contributing factors in the death of millions of people in the developing world due to diseases that are easily preventable. For example, lack of sanitation and inadequate disposal or storage of waste near houses can provide habitats for vectors responsible for several infectious diseases such as amebiasis, typhoid fever and diarrhea. Uncontrolled and inadequate landfills are a danger to the environment and a health risk to the population since they may lead to contamination of water and soil. The health risks associated with poor sanitation tend to be higher in densely populated low-income urban areas. At a global level, more than 5 million people die each year from diseases related to inadequate waste disposal systems. Contamination of water leads to a whole range of diarrheal diseases such as cholera that kills 1.8 million people worldwide. An estimated 90 percent among them are children below five, mainly from developing countries. Most of the burden can be attributed to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices. According to UNICEF, Infant Mortality Rates (IMRs) are almost always higher in poor urban areas than the national average and than those in rural areas. A great proportion of the high mortality among the children of the urban poor can be attributed to diseases common in urban areas such as diarrhea, tuberculosis and parasitic diseases (intestinal worms) that are frequently associated with lack of safe water and sanitation.

Africa has the lowest water supply and sanitation coverage of any other region in the world. It is estimated that one in three Africans has no access to improved water or to sanitation facilities and the number of people lacking those basic services is increasing. The majority of those lacking basic services live in informal or suburban areas and rural communities. Unless actions are taken now, the absolute number of people lacking basic services will increase from 200 million in 2000 to 400 million in 2020.

Many Sub-Saharan countries will find it difficult to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for 2015, particularly the MDG 7 which stipulates to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

No comments: