In today’s world, it is estimated that a child dies due to lack of proper sanitation every twenty seconds; the number of children that die due to lack of safe water is even larger. These results are not limited to only new born children, but also their mothers. According to a report by UNICEF, 36 %, or approximately 750 million people, do not have access to clean water or proper sanitation. Among this percentage, the vast majority is women. According to the World Economic Forum, sanitation and clean water issues will steadily grow. It has already been labeled as the number one global risk which is bound to result in crisis within 10 years.
WHY DOES THIS PROBLEM AFFECT MORE WOMEN AND CHILDREN THAN MEN?
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than half of the 1.6 million global deaths from waterborne diarrhea are women and children. This is a result of improper education and deficient medical treatment. 90% percent of these children in developing countries are below the age of 5.
- Lack of fresh water and sanitation leads to a greater risk of contracting Schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that almost 500 million people are at risk of contracting each year. Women and children are more prone to developing this illness due to poor access to knowledge of sanitation practices and diarrheal medications.
- In repressive regions, the responsibility of fetching water is often left with women who must travel grueling distances to obtain fresh water. All too often this fetched water has priority among male elders and boys.
- According to the UN and UNICEF, one in five girls remain absent from school due to a lack of sanitation facilities in their schools. Those who go to school without proper sanitary precautions commonly fall prey to infectious diseases.
- According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of people affected by the Guinea worm disease is also increasing every year due to the consumption of contaminated water.
HOW TO PREVENT CHILDREN AND WOMEN FROM FALLING PREY WATERBORNE ILLNESS?
- The first step in lowering waterborne illness rates is promoting and supporting proper hygiene and sanitation behavior across every strata of society, irrespective of gender.
- Providing and encouraging the use of safe, affordable and environmentally friendly sanitation and hygienic technology.
- Converting slums into livable localities helps to improve the lifestyle of women and children while promoting and facilitating hygienic practices and clean water.
- Education on gender equality will help promote clean hygiene habits in women and children, as well as their access to clean water.
According to the UN, lack of clean water and proper sanitation among the women and children of developing nations hampers development and puts future generations at risk by allowing environments that are prone to chronic diseases (and have the potential of developing into pandemics) to fester. Therefore, it is essential to introduce modern-day concepts of sanitation and to make clean water available to the women and children of developing nations.