Lack of Sanitation in Developing Countries Water and sanitation is a key sector where much effort is needed in the world. Sanitation, an issue many overlook today, refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human waste and promoting hygienic conditions through services that improve water supplies. Today, over a third of the world’s population lack access to adequate sanitation facilities (globalpovertyproject. com). This has been an underlying issue we have been struggling with for centuries and developing relevant infrastructure is a major challenge.
One gram of feces can contain ten million viruses, one million bacteria, one thousand parasite cysts, and one hundred parasite eggs. Effective sanitation facilities are extremely important because lack of quality in these facilities leads to perpetuating disease and high rates of child mortality. In fact, sanitation is one of the world’s leading cause of disease and child death. In order to address extreme poverty and global diseases, achievement of universal access to sanitation is necessary.
Many people in the United States, and other developed countries, overlook the issue of sanitation because these countries have access to well-equipped toilets and safe drinking water. In fact, three things most of the world cannot due include “…taking a hot shower, getting clean water from the tap, and flushing a toilet. ” (water. org) However, developing countries struggle in sanitation because installing a system requires more effort than just digging a hole in the ground. Design is not important, as long as the facilities dispose waste in a hygienic way.
Human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, infections hepatitis, and diarrhea. Lack of safe drinking water is also an extremely large contributing factor to hindering the health of developing countries. Village communities will walk for miles in order to collect buckets of water for the entire family. The average American’s five-minute shower uses more safe-drinking water than what a family would consume in one day in other developing countries. Public health worldwide can be improved when solutions to sanitation problems are found. Diarrheal disease is just one in many big concerns caused by unsafe anitation, water, and hygiene (Buttenheim). To us, it is known as a nuisance, but for millions of children in the developing world, diarrhea is a death sentence. Diarrhea is caused primarily by infectious pathogens excreted in the feces of infected humans. Acute diarrhea causes life-threatening dehydration, while chronic diarrhea can hinder growth and development by preventing absorption of nutrients. Alison M. Buttenheim, a sanitation researcher, proposes that improved sanitation affects child nutritional status by limiting exposure to diarrheal pathogens.
One way this can be accomplished includes implementing hygienic child care practices and behaviors and availability. Today, schools provide as a tool to demonstrate sanitation and treat the source of hygienic practices. Hygiene promotion programs teach students about dirt and disease and what can be done to improve health. 1. 1 billion people still practice open defecation (water. org), which can easily be prevented by educating the community. The promotion of sanitation and hygiene has emerged as one of the most cost-effective possible interventions against waterborne diseases (Barreto).
Construction and use of appropriate sanitary facilities such as hand washing stations, soap, and toilets, can be extremely effective in reducing the incidence of diarrhea (water. worldbank. org). Not only do schools provide an opportunity to enforce certain behaviors in children, schools also provide an arena where sanitation can be shown at its best. Simple habits such as hand washing with soap before eating and after using the restroom are engrained at a young age. Not only do these practices directly effect the children’s lifestyles, but the habits of their entire families.
School sanitation projects can largely impact several students. For example, girls in Bagamoyo, Western Tanzania are turning up to school in huge numbers due to improved school buildings and sanitation. The school now has three new classrooms and eight toilets, a huge improvement to its previous infrastructure. In the past, many girls feared sharing toilets with boys. Now, enrollment at the school has gone up by one hundred percent because the girls now have their own toilets (www. globalpovertyprojec. com). Lack of sanitation facilities in schools help transmit diseases.
This project is an example of improving sanitation infrastructure, however, this only scratches the surface. In Uganda, a recent survey suggested that there is only one toilet for every 700 Ugandan pupils. The deterioration in sanitary conditions was attributed to increased enrollment in schools (WHO). These type of situations occur all over the world. The number of urban slums have been growing 2. 2% per year, thus proper sanitation infrastructure must be prioritized worldwide. Improving sanitation infrastructure is another way to improve sanitation in developing countries.
The school in Bagamoyo had a huge impact, however, more can be done. Focusing Resources for Effective School Health (FRESH) is an organization that aims to achieve more child-friendly schools (freshschools. org). FRESH sets a core intervention to implement health-related school policies, provisions of safe water and sanitation in all schools, and teach skills based on health and hygiene education. Schools are not the only place to target in order to improve sanitation. Because schools require a large effort and continuity from the whole community, other solutions and innovative ideas must play into solving this problem as well.
Adequate sanitation prevents fecal matter from contaminating water supplies and surroundings in which people live. Five out of the top seven diseases that burden developing countries are caused by infectious pathogens and most of the diseases are waterborne. Waterborne diseases and cause epidemics by interacting with susceptible individuals through water. In many urban areas, parents have little or no options to dispose of their family’s feces. Because of the lack of sanitation infrastructure, an increase of children interacting with waterborne diseases increase (Buttenheim).
This is the most common and easiest way disease enters the lives of children, usually by consumption through their drinking water or direct contact. Inadequate sanitation compels residents to use hanging latrines, unhygienic pit latrines, or nearby open spaces. A latrine can refer to a toilet or a simpler facility used as a toilet. Mostly, latrine systems do not include flush or sewage systems. These urban slums can be found all over the world – particularly in South Asia, South America, and Africa.
In Salvador, Brazil only middle-class areas had adequate sewers (26% of households), causing the infant mortality rate to be under 30/1000 live births (Barreto). However, a large intervention was implemented with an objective to increase the number of households with an adequate sewer system to 80%. Though research found that developing a solid infrastructure in households is a highly effective health measure, individual households should not be the only targets. Toilets are not the only way to solve the problem, however sewer systems will help tremendously (Barreto).
However, sewer systems require an investment from the government, involvement of policy-making and regulation, and ways to properly build and maintain the sewage systems in order fully benefit the people. The topic of sanitation does not just include sewage; sanitation includes proper facilities that provide safe drinking water for a community. Nearly 66% of people who lack safe drinking water live on less than two dollars a day (water. org). Waterborne diseases do not just spread through people interacting with open feces, but through drinking water.
In many countries, microbiologically safe drinking water is considered a fundamental human right. In others, the definition of biologically safe is unclear. Water sources in developing countries do not undergo thorough tests from their government, ensuring their safety. However, their water sources continue to receive agricultural, industrial, and municipal wastes. On top of infectious diseases, the population worries about dangerous elements that enter their drinking water source – this includes fluoride, arsenic, and selenium. Many elements, such as these, are poison when consumed and have crippling effects.
Demand for water is also very high, with no proper infrastructure to pump water from a safe water source. In many cases within developing countries, wastewater treatment is either limited or nonexistent (Ford). Because the installation of sewage systems and wastewater treatment takes a lot of time and money, many other solutions can be offered that require less intervention from the government, less funding, and less time. One close link between lack of water constraints is caused by large volumes of water as vapor flow required in plant growth dominating water use. Vapor low refers to the green water flow or consumptive water use in biomass production (Rockstrom). Not only is the population struggling to sanitize water, but water is also very difficult to obtain in many places. From an agro-hydrological perspective, “…there is enough rainfall even in semiarid and dry-subhumid savanna agro-ecosystems to allow significantly increased yield levels. ” (Rockstrom). Researchers, however, have found a way to both obtain water and help sanitize the water – rain barrels and rain gardens. Together, these form a natural and simple solution to water issues that the world has today.
Rain gardens are formed from a shallow depression of soil that is planted with native perennial plants. The plants and soil work as a unit to filter out pollutants while absorbing run off. This is a method of managing runoff while also providing aesthetic and environmental benefits (Tornes). The design of a rain garden retain runoff and encourage infiltration to ground water. The retention of runoff encourages uptake and biodegradation of compounds that may be present in runoff. It is assumed that sediment, nutrient and other chemical removal occurs as runoff comes in contact with the soil, bacteria, and roots within the rain garden.
A study of rain gardens in Minnesota prove that properly designed rain gardens enhance infiltration and can reduce concentrations of dissolved ions (Tornes). This find is extremely beneficial because in many tropical places, such as in south Asia, rain gardens can serve as a simple solution in communities to improve the sanitation of their drinking water source. Rain barrels capture rain from the roof of a house through a gutter system, capturing water for better use other than washing over roads or into storm drains.
The captured water can be used to water plants (at no cost), but mostly rain barrels are a great way to reduce stormwater runoff. When rain hits an impervious surface, such as roads and sidewalks, the stormwater travels into storm drains, picking up debris along the way. Most of the debris includes garbage, sticks, salts, animal waste, fertilizer, and oils and chemicals from vehicles. (raingardennetwork. com) The runoff from storms pollute drinking water sources. In one community, a rain garden and rain barrels can be designed and installed to sustain a safe-drinking water ource. Also, the rainwater caught by the barrels can be used to irrigate water into a small farm or crops. Using both of these methods will help sanitization in a less complex and demanding way. Another solution that can be implemented is increasing the amount of graywater use. Graywater is water from bathroom sinks, washing machines etc. This is not water that comes into contact with feces, but may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain cleaning products. While graywater may look dirty, it is a safe and beneficial source of irrigation water.
Though a graywater system would be difficult to install in these small communities, their lands are continuously used by industries. Several waste dump sites are located on the outskirts of almost all major cities, providing hazardous environmental conditions. These large industries have the funding and the resources to increase graywater use just within their factories or buildings. Instead of dumping all of their waste into drinking water sources, filled with pharmaceuticals or chemicals, companies can reduce this amount by transferring their graywater to be used by crops.
Though the amount of industrial waste is mostly from production, water from their bathroom sinks or cleaning products can be diverted elsewhere. A little goes a long way here – over time, the accumulation of graywater diverted to other uses will benefit irrigation crops and reduce the amount of waste being dumped into drinking water sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also implementing other solutions by increasing advocacy on an international level. On top of the sanitization projects already being done and the solutions suggested, we can help by supporting the WHO in the programs. World Toilet Day is on November 19.
This is a way that the WHO is educating populations in developed countries about the lack of sanitation and the important role sanitation plays into survival. Donating money is another way to help support the WHO in their cause. Improved sanitation in developing countries typically yields about $9 worth of economic benefit for every $1 spent. These benefits include saving time, reducing direct and indirect health costs, increasing return on investments in education, and safeguarding water resources. Upon doing all of this research, I found that many of the solutions offered to us can easily be implemented by developed countries.
Though we do not struggle with sanitation to the extent of undeveloped countries, use of rain barrels, rain gardens, and graywater can solve many environmental issues that will benefit the entire world. It is also our responsibility to do as much as we can to help these undeveloped countries improve their sanitation. Child mortality rates are ridiculously high, yet solutions to these problems are easily implemented. Many take for granted the luxury from a functioning toilet and clean water from the tap, when even more walk for miles to drink water that may not even be safe.
Cite this Lack of Sanitation in Developing Countries
Lack of Sanitation in Developing Countries. (2016, Sep 28). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/lack-of-sanitation-in-developing-countries/