The effect of poor water and sanitation can have far-reaching and ill-fated effects for those who are required to use unsanitary toilet facilities and drink, bathe, cook with and use contaminated water.
In first world, western countries we take having clean, sanitary water for granted – we simply turn on a tap and have access to almost unlimited clean drinking water. The same with toilet and bathroom facilities. There are not too many people that live in Australia that need to think about the health impact on their community when it comes to toilet and water sanitation.
Why are good sanitation practices so important?
Many water-borne pathogens and infections are spread via contaminated water and contribute to issues like diarrhoea and cholera which have a lethal effect on people – particularly the very young and very old. For example, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five, which is mostly preventable by clean water and sanitation (source).
By simply educating communities about proper sanitation procedures and implementing simple, safe water sanitation solutions like composting toilets, water tanks and solar power can have the following influences:-
- Reduction in water-borne pathogens
- Reduction in illnesses like diarrhea and cholera
- Better groundwater protection
- Reduction of possible spread of parasites & pathogens like
- Whipworm (Trichuris trichiura)
- Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoies)
- Dysentery (Entamoeba histolytic)
- Promotion of a healthier, happier community
By giving people the right education and products to promote healthy sanitation practices, the quality of life for millions of people can be vastly improved – that’s why the Ecoflo-WASH organisation is committed to working with Governments, Non-Government Organisations and other bodies to help provide products that literally change the lives of people in regions where poor sanitation is a daily burden.
What are the main causes of poor sanitation?
The biggest cause of poor sanitation globally is simply lack of education. Even the simple act of washing hands regularly can have a huge impact on the overall health of a community. There are many causes of poor sanitation, let’s explore a few of these.
This is an area we focus on as Ecoflo-WASH has the capacity to help communities with composting toilets that will alleviate many of the issues surrounding open defecation. Put simply, open defecation fouls surrounding environments and is a major cause for the spread of preventable diseases.
Unsafe drinking water
Unsafe, untreated and contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year. Many of these could be prevented with simple sanitary practices and clean drinking water. Diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio are rife in areas where clean drinking water isn’t available.
High density living
In areas where informal or temporary / semi permanent settlements crop up, the high density nature of these areas along with less access to sanitation programs and products means there’s a high likelihood of sewage and waste not being dealt with properly.
Lack of education
This is a relatively easy issue to combat as education starts typically in the form of school programs teaching children the importance of healthy habits when it comes to sanitation, waste control, clean drinking water and washing their hands.
What happens to communities with poor sanitation?
The effects of poor sanitation can cause a large range of issues from health and well-being related through to economic and societal issues. The health issues alone make this a worthwhile cause to tackle for anyone that can involve themselves in helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Health risks are often exacerbated by poor sanitation and hygiene practices and many preventable health problems and diseases can be avoided with a little education and the right environment and products (clean water, soap, water filters, composting toilets, grey water systems, etc).
Increased health issues
There are many water borne diseases and pathogens that are harmful to humans that thrive in unsanitary conditions that are brought about by untreated water and issues related to open defecation. In some countries the cost of treating water borne diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, and worm infections can represent up to a third of household incomes. This can be avoided with some safe hygiene practices, access to clean water and water sanitation solutions like composting toilets.
Increase in diseases
Diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio can all be and are transmitted by contaminated water. Communities where there’s a high density of people combined with poor sanitary conditions means these horrific diseases can race through communities causing ill-health, ongoing health problems and death in severe cases.
Decrease in schooling
Many children can’t attend school because of diseases and issues relating to poor sanitation. By simply not having the right toilet facilities at schools girls are less likely to be able to attend which impacts the broader community for many years into the future.
Downturn in economic opportunity
Communities that suffer ill health and poor sanitation related issues are more likely to spend less time working because of health related issue and be required to spend more money on healthcare related to this. The investment of proper sanitation helps to create economic returns, can create jobs and contributes to the overall economy of the community.
What Ecoflo-WASH are doing to help communities practice proper sanitation
Here are Ecoflo-WASH we believe that everyone should have the right to clean drinking water and proper sanitation. We work closely with Governments, Non-Government Organisations and other charities, bodies and companies to help coordinate, procure and install proper waste water sanitation solutions for the communities and villages that need it most.
Recently we’ve helped the island of Rambusto in Papua New Guinea (with the assistance of Friends of Rambutso ) by installing a composting toilet available to the entire community. This stopped open defecation on the island along with helping the community learn about proper hygiene practices that can stop many preventable diseases.
You can view some more of our case studies here. If you’re interested in working with Ecoflo-WASH on a community project, please contact us and we would be happy to speak with about how our water and sanitation expertise may be able to assist.