Two things we take for granted. Yet, by 2002, 42% of Africans still had no access to improved sources of water and only 36% enjoyed some sort of improved sanitation. In layman terms, this means no clean water on tap or even within a few hundreds yards and nowhere, private, hygienic or safe for people and the environment to pee and defecate.
In Africa, every year, nearly 700,000 children die before their 5th birthday from diarrhoea. It is estimated that up to 70% of these deaths could be avoided with improvements in drinking water at the point of use; something as simple as boiling water and keeping it in a safe container. But although much ado is done about providing clean water, it is the lack of sanitation that causes the most havock for people’s health and for the environment; ensuring that the vicious circle of contamination is left unbroken.
“Because they don’t have toilets, millions of people practise what is known as ‘open defecation’. They wait for darkness to set off for the fields; or they dump the foul contents of their household bucket in an open drain when no-one is looking; or they squat down on a bread-wrapper or plastic bag and throw the parcel on a dump. Rainfall or a local stream, or maybe scavenging dogs and pigs, help tidy the mess away, or the sun may oblige by baking it dry. But in an increasingly crowded world, millions of people inevitably pick up excreta-related diseases from faecal particles lying about in the open, and 1.5 million small children thereby annually lose their lives.” New Internationalist, Issue 414. For the full article and lots more fascinating information.