Lack of access to water, and specifically to clean, safe drinking water is a problem in many parts of the world, causing wide-ranging problems for children, women, and communities. The proposed project involves face to face education, accompanied by distributing equipment to purify water, equipment to create sanitary human waste disposal facilities, sanitary supplies, and equipment to maintain contact with people who can provide ongoing support and continued hygiene instruction to keep the project operating properly.
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Families, teachers, and community leaders will be involved in learning about the importance of safe drinking water, hand-washing, and sanitary habits surrounding elimination. Community members will learn how to use soap, individual water purifiers, and help build and maintain waterless toilet facilities, with the support and help of UNICEF and the project team. Ongoing support, advice, and instructions will be provided to the community by the project team and health workers, via cell phone.
The project has the potential to decrease illness and premature death from water-borne organisms among both children and adults, improve the potential for full participation by girls and women in the life of their community and nation, and offer the possibility of future jobs and increased economic potential. The measure of success will be the decreasing rates of morbidity and premature mortality among community residents, and the continued use of the equipment and supplies initially distributed.
Water availability is naturally unevenly across the landscape, and historically, human beings have always settled preferentially near reliable sources of water.
However, due to war and dislocation, economic pressure, and human action upon the landscape through livestock grazing, inappropriate waste disposal, or industrial activity, for example, people end up in areas that either never had water, or where the water quality has been compromised. Where people live in chronic poverty, this means that people may have to travel great distances to acquire water. They often also suffer the consequences daily of drinking water contaminated by human or animal waste.
In areas of where development has not arrived, or in areas stricken by poverty, elimination often occurs in the bush. While this can contaminate groundwater and surface water, it is often the only option that people can manage. Building facilities with flush toilets requires not only the building and the toilet, which require major resources but the political and civil structures that would support the organization of a sewage system as well.
Where children die young from disorders such as diarrhea, or other diseases associated with water borne organisms or fecal contamination, there is societal pressure to bear children frequently. This may be overwhelming, even if this is damaging to the mother’s health and the prospects of the children. Thus, the healthy survival of children into adulthood has a direct impact on both the children and their mothers.
Where women are forced by the lack of water near their homes to carry water great distances, they often cannot afford the time to attend school. Additionally schools may not have sanitary facilities, thereby excluding females from education.
Women must seek darkness and solitude to eliminate or expose themselves to danger, especially in areas where there is political disruption, such as in refugee situations. Factors such as these noted above can exclude women – literally half the population – from full contribution to the local economy.
Sewage systems require a civil structure to organize their funding, creation, and maintenance.
Examples of related projects include distributing soap, installing waterless toilets, and digging latrines.
This project learns from these examples, for example, using appropriate designs for the locale, and providing ongoing instruction via cell phone to make sure that the products and equipment are used properly.