This map represents all the countries of the world and how they are doing on water. I want to specifically focus on those dark red regions, because these are the people living from day to day with contaminated water. These are the people suffering the most around the world. I have done some research on a few of the countries struggling with the water crisis and want to give the facts and real stories of these people.
In the 1970s Bangladesh was pretty well off, or so they thought, with the use of sanitary water. However, in 1993, there was a discovery of large concentrations of arsenic found in the ground water they had been using as their main water source. This obviously had a huge impact on disease and other health problems occurring in Bangladesh. In particular, it gave rise to skin disorders and cancers.
The wells were then marked as a sign not to use them anymore. So the latrines were diminishing and individuals had to defecate out in the open. Also, going back to the contaminated water sources, such as lakes and rivers, caused even more health problems. A major problem is diarrheal diseases, killing over 100,000 children yearly.
Infant Mortality: 55/1000
Life Expectancy: 65.7 years
Water Supply Coverage: 80%
Sanitation Coverage: 53%
150 MPH winds, 7 foot tidal waves, more than 3,000 dead and 5,000 missing. In 2007, Cyclone Sidr crashed the shores of Bangladesh destroying anything and everything in its way. There were nine million homes diminished and over 1,000 wells destroyed. The water sources were now contaminated and people were left with nothing.
The main source of water in Ethiopia comes from ponds and lakes have been dried up for over 20 years due to droughts causing food shortages and famine. The children and women walk to the nearest source of water, which typically takes six hours, and fill their jugs with filthy muck. They will literally go to the pond where there are cows have been standing for days and fill their cans with the same water for drinking later.
All the water in the country is contaminated from environmental waste form rain water washing everything into the streams. This happens to also be the home of the many mosquitoes in the area. Due to the lack of water, members of the community suffer from scabies and eye infections, especially in children. Diarrheal is a major problem and is the leading cause of death of the children in Ethiopia.
Infant Mortality: 109/1000
Life Expectancy: 55 years
Water Supply Coverage: 38%
Sanitation Coverage: 12%
“It doesn’t look at all like a spring, but it is. Currently it’s a mud pit, visibly contaminated by human feet and animal feces. But at the eye of Gasi spring, for only a split second before mixing with the muck, the water comes out of the ground clean and clear. Pristine.
Yet instead of getting at that pristine water, the women and children of Gasi huddle with yellow and blue Jerry Cans to gather the deadly mix of contaminated water you see here.”
Hurricane Mitch came rolling through Honduras in 1998 and since then, the natives of the country haven’t been well off. All of the heavy rain caused flooding and landslides, which killed many and left the rest with little clean water. Of all the water, only 15% is safe to drink. Most of these people are drinking contaminated water which has lead to even more deaths over the years. A water-related illness called cholera is on the rise and the mosquitoes living around the water, carrying malaria and dengue fever, are causing more lives to be lost.
*No information found on infant mortality, life expectancy, water supply coverage, or sanitation coverage.
“If you’d like a drink in Rio Platano, you’d choose your poison from toxic holes in the ground. If you wanted to use the toilet, you’d head for the shack on stilts with a hole that drops waste 10 feet below into open marshy ground. If you wanted to wash your hands, you’d be out of luck. There is no soap. If you needed medical attention, forget the clinic.”
There is a small amount of clean water, limited toilets, and absolutely no soap. All the houses are built on stilts to keep from going under. The contaminated water covers all of the land of Honduras and if people do not literally drown in it, they will slowly die of its toxins.
Kenya, along with most other countries on the eastern part of Africa, is in a water crisis due to continuous droughts. The untreated water has caused huge problems. Only about half of the population has access to clean drinking water. Getting to the water sources prevents women from pursuing their time in any other activities, where they could be making a little money, and prevents most girls from attending school.
Infant Mortality: 68/1000
Life Expectancy: 64 years
Water Supply Coverage: 88%
Sanitation Coverage: 31%
Dominic Mosa gives a tour around the Mogiato Health clinic in Kenya. Starting in the laundry room, the sheets and gowns are washing in brown, murky water. The water comes from the muddy river about a mile north of the clinic. This is the same water that is used for cooking, cleaning, and drinking in the homes of many villages. As Mosa enters one of the hospital rooms, he points out that the beige sheets were at one point white, but havn’t been that way in a very long time.
Mogiato Health clinic is like many other clinics throughout Kenya. They all use contaminated water for treating patients. Shockingly, some patients will only be seen if they retrieve five gallons of water and bring it with them to the hospital. These individuals cannot even get clean water for treatment. Most of them are put in the clinics because of typhoid, worms in the intestines, dysentery, and cholera, all coming from the contaminated water.
Uganda’s water supply has improved in the last 10 years making it accessible to 67% and sanitation is up to 48%. This is great news! However, that 33% of the population is still drinking and using dirty water. There water comes from open wells and streams. There are not many toilets for use, so many latrines are overcrowded and people are taught to defecate in the open (causing sanitation problems).
Individuals can purchase safe tap water; but those living in unplanned communities have to pay three times as much for the water than those in developed communities. This is why most of them gather water from nearby streams. This causes many diseases, such as outbreaks of cholera and dysentery.
Infant Mortality: 130/1000
Life Expectancy: 53 years
Water Supply Coverage: 67%
Sanitation Coverage: 48%
Helen Apio, a woman of Uganda, would wake up early in the morning and set out on her journey with two jerry cans. She would walk up to a mile and a half to obtain the water her and her family so badly needed. She would have to wait sometimes hours in line for clean water. If she did not want to wait, she would go collect the contaminated water from the pond.
She would say, “How should I use this water today? Should I water my garden so we can grow food? Should I wash my children’s uniforms? Should I use it to cook a meal? Should we drink this water?” That was ten gallons of water a day to disperse between herself, her two children and her husband.
Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, and Uganda are just a select few of the countries trying to survive off the resources they have. These explain just a few of the stories of those struggling the most in the world water crisis. Many organizations including, WaterAid America, Water.org, and Charity: water have gathered donations and have dug wells in these five areas, as well as many others. The people caught in this are definitely better off currently than a few years ago. Though, these countries are still pretty bad off. Each one of these individuals needs our help. They need clean and safe drinking water; and they deserve it.
Unfortunately, these are countries that have poor management, under-investment, deforestation, and polluted water, and this they cannot help. We though, can help. With support and dedication people who are more fortunate than these could try and save a community with just a small donation. Any little bit helps and why not be a part of something that is bettering the world and the people living in it.