Water & Sanitation

Water truly is life. Safe water is critical for preventing diarrheal disease as well as pneumonia, and good health is simply not possible without it.

But safe drinking water still eludes more than 780 million people. If everyone had access to safe water, almost 90% of diarrheal deaths could be prevented. 1

While there is still much to be done, 2012 brought good news in safe water: The United Nations announced that the global Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without safe drinking water has been met. Since 1990, more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources.2

The problem persists, however, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural and poor communities lack infrastructure that ensures safe drinking water. This burden, and the constant search for a safe water supply, falls most heavily on girls and women.

At PATH, our Safe Water Project set out to understand the role of commercial markets in increasing access to safe drinking water in poor communities. Projects in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya explored distribution channels and microfinance models for direct and retail sales of inexpensive household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) products. We learned from users about improving existing products and making them more culturally appropriate, as well as about generating demand in their communities. The project found that market-based approaches can extend the reach of public health programs, maximizing efficiency and leveraging the private sector. (Explore the Safe Water Project’s activities and lessons in its close-out report, Perspectives.)

Water truly is life. Good health is simply not possible without safe water, and it is critical for preventing diarrheal disease as well as pneumonia.

But safe drinking water still eludes more than 780 million people. If everyone had access to safe water, almost 90% of diarrheal deaths could be prevented.1

While there is still much to be done, 2012 brought good news in safe water: The United Nations announced that the global Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without safe drinking water has been met. Since 1990, more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources.2

The problem persists, however, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural and poor communities lack infrastructure improvements that bring safe drinking water. This burden, and the constant search for a safe water supply, falls most heavily on girls and women.

At PATH, our Safe Water Project  set out to understand the role of commercial markets in increasing access to safe drinking water in poor communities. Projects in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya explored distribution channels and microfinance models for direct and retail sales of inexpensive household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) products. We learned from users about improving existing products and making them more culturally appropriate, as well as about generating demand in their communities. The project found that market-based approaches can extend the reach of public health programs, maximizing efficiency and leveraging the private sector. (Explore the Safe Water Project’s activities and lessons in its close-out report, Perspectives.)

- See more at: http://defeatdd.org/understanding-crisis/diarrhea-prevention-treatment/water-sanitation/safe-water#sthash.6e8oPxzN.dpuf

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References

1 Unicef. Committing to child survival: A promise renewed. 2012. New York: Unicef; 2012.
2 Unicef/WHO. Progress on drinking water and sanitation, 2012 update. New York: Unicef and WHO;2012.

Photo: David Jacobs