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20.05.2015 | Blog

Sewerage causes illness

Diarrhea harms people and economy

Junge trinkt Wasser an Brunnen.
Hygiene-Projekt an einer Schule im Dzenza-Distrikt: Ein Junge trinkt frisches Wasser vom Brunnen. © Kai Loeffelbein
Stephan Simon Team Sector Strategy, Knowledge & Learning

Water is the basis of our life and that is what makes it worthy of protection. The International Water Day draws attention to this topic. In the developing countries there is a different reality: According to the United Nations, 90 percent of the private and commercial waste water is drained untreated. Sewage seeps away and gets into rivers and lakes.

But not only that: If there are no toilets, people defecate in the open. Even more dirt and bacteria get into the ground water. Into the ground water that people use every day: They drink it and cook with it. Children play in the sewers; they bath and wash themselves in the polluted lakes. People get into contact with dangerous pathogens. Every year, four billion people suffer from diarrhea, because they got into contact with dirty water or drank it. Almost two million people die of it. 

Unfit for work due to diarrhea

Dirty water not only makes one sick, it disturbs entire economic systems. Every year, five billion working days and more than 440 million school days are missed out in developing countries because of illnesses that are linked to the bad sanitation and water systems. In Africa alone, five percent of the gross domestic product is lost – more money than the whole amount of development aid transferred to this region.

Actually, these circumstances should not exist. In 2010 the Right to Water and Sanitation has been acknowledged to be a Human Right. Since then, the Governments of the states are responsible to provide sufficient clean water and access to toilets and sanitation to their citizens. The responsibility for waste water management is self-evident. However, there are states that have problems to fulfill these requirements.

Helping with intensive educational work

Welthungerhilfe supports Governments in coping with the tasks related to waste water management. Worldwide, it conducts projects in the sector of waste and waste water management. Intensive educational work and hygiene trainings are included in the programmes. Only if the tragic connection between faecal contamination of drinking water and diarrhea is understood, infections and deaths that are linked to water can be prevented. 

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