There are many cases around the world that prove water sanitation and human health are highly correlated. When water isn’t clean or safe for drinking because it has been contaminated by waste or chemicals, those who consume it can suffer from fatal diseases. According to many medical professionals and organizations, the average adult human body is made up of 50-65% water or even more in some cases.
Many African countries are among the most affected by the global water crisis. Nations like Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Ghana often rely on sponsorship projects from nonprofits in the developed world that seek to sanitize water for communities in Africa. According to a World Health Organization report from 2004, 2.6 billion people in 2002 (42% of the global population) lacked access to proper sanitation and 1.1 billion individuals (17% of the world’s population) lacked access to improved water sources. The WHO also found that sanitation coverage in sub-Saharan Africa that year was just 36%.
Here Are Some of The Types of Illnesses That Arise as a Result of Poor Water Sanitation:
According to a June 2019 WHO report, contaminated drinking water is estimated to lead to between 485,000 and 829,000 diarrhea deaths every year. Since traveler’s diarrhea is a digestive tract disease, it can often cause loose or bloody stools and abdominal cramps. Among children, this disorder can often lead to repeated vomiting, high fever and leave people unresponsive at times. In total, 1.8 million people globally die from diarrheal diseases (including cholera) and 90% are children under age 5. The majority of the victims of these illnesses live in sub-Saharan African countries and other developing nations.
The WHO estimated in 2004 that 1.3 million people die from malaria annually, and 90% of these people are children under 5. Globally, there are 396 million cases of malaria each year, and a majority of these cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is an illness caused by parasites that enter the blood through mosquito bites. As mosquitos are often present near water sources like rivers in Africa, malaria strikes the continent in a particularly rough way.
Schistosomiasis — which is caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes — is strongly linked to unsanitary disposal of excrement and other waste and to a lack of nearby clean water sources. The intestines or urinary tract can often be infected by this disease. According to the WHO’s 2004 report, essential sanitation services help cut the disease by as much as 77%. Artificial reservoirs and poorly constructed irrigation projects are among the primary causes of the spread of schistosomiasis.
Trachoma is strongly tied to poor or lack of face washing resulting from an absence of nearby clean water sources. Since the disease — which is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis — leads to an infection of the eyelids, trachoma is often linked to blindness. However, the WHO estimates that improving access to safe water sources and sanitation and hygiene habits can help lower trachoma morbidity by 27%.
There are four different types of intestinal helminthic parasites: Ascariasis lumbricoides (roundworm), Trichiuris Trichiuria (whipworm), Ancelyostoma duodenale and Necator americanicus (both hookworms). Around 133 million people suffer from infections tied to these parasites, which can cause cognitive impairment, anemia and dysentery, among other issues. According to the WHO, access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure and better hygiene habits can lower roundworm by 29% and hookworm by 4%.
The WHO estimated in 2004 that there are 1.5 million instances of Hepatitis A annually, and that the disease caused around 7,134 deaths in 2016. An extremely contagious liver disease, Hepatitis A is sometimes transferred from consuming contaminated water or food. This infection is often evident from symptoms like jaundice, nausea, fatigue and low appetite. Good hygiene, especially proper hand-washing, is key to reducing the risk of Hepatitis A. Vaccines, clean water supplies and adequate waste disposal are also important for lowering the occurrence of this disease.
How to Bring Water Sanitation & Improve Health in Africa
Reach out to The Last Well — a nonprofit organization based in Rockwall, Texas — for more information about how to provide sub-Saharan African countries with safe drinking water and thus reduce health problems in the region. The charity aims, among other things, to provide all of Liberia with access to safe drinking water by the end of 2020.
The Last Well accepts cash and check donations but also promotes other forms of involvement like sponsoring families or villages with water-related projects like dam and well constructions. Fundraisers, including kickstarters, birthday and sports-related events, are also a great way to help countries in Africa gain access to safe drinking water.