Tapping ideas for the global water and sanitation crisisWith current rates of urban growth, it is estimated that half the worlds populationwill be living under severe water stress by 2030 and the implications for globaleconomic security are severe. In addition, the problem of sanitation has affectedthe world adversely.http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/index.php?id=23Water Supply and Sanitation"Our main problems in rural communities are the following: walking long distances about2 to 3 kilometers daily to public tap; carrying heavy containers on our heads 20 to 25litres per trips; long queues at the point of taps; should there be contamination at thiscommon point the whole village is at risk." Adult female of South Africa, Water VoiceProject, 2003DO YOU KNOW? A threatening situation, needing tobe faced1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. 2.6 billion people lack adequatesanitation. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoea diseases, including 90 % ofchildren under 5. This situation is no longer bearable.What are the benefits of safe water supply andsanitation?In the context of development challenges, it is a great priority to focus on water supplyand sanitation. Indeed, it is an imperative to respect human values; it provides goodhealth and ensures economic benefits.Respecting human values Expanding access to water and sanitation is a moral and ethical imperative rooted in the cultural and religious traditions of communities around the world. Dignity, equity, compassion and solidarity are values shared all over the world. Extending water supply and sanitation services to poor households would largely contribute to promoting them.
DO YOU KNOW? The Right to Water, recently proclaimed by the United Nations, (General Comment No 15, 2002), is said to be "indispensable for leading a life in human dignity" and "a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights."Improving the health of the community. Safe drinking water and basic sanitation is of crucial importance to the preservation of human health, especially among children. Water-related diseases are the most common cause of illness and death among the poor of developing countries. DO YOU KNOW? According to theWorld Health Organization, 1.6 million deaths of children per year can be attributed to unsafe water, poor sanitation, and lack of hygiene.Generating economic benefits Better services resulting from the relocation of a well or borehole to a site closer to user communities, the installation of piped water supply in houses, and latrines closer to home yield significant time savings. The availability of water can be used to start or expand small enterprises and thus increase disposable household income. At the national level, demand for agricultural products increased, and tourism may develop.Improving life at all ages From the age of 0 to 4 years, the cruel toll of child mortality may be reduced. From the age of 5 to 14 years, far more children, especially girls, could go to school if they had adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities. It would enable children to escape from their families poverty. From the age of 15 to 59 years, productivity gains would be achieved with improved water and sanitation facilities. People older than 60 could expect to live longer. DO YOU KNOW? Due to poor sanitation, the water supply is contaminated and it is estimated that 5 million people died each year from water-borne diseases although these diseases are preventableHow does improving water supply and sanitation facilities in lessdeveloped countries help to promote development?By improving the water supply and sanitation facilities, the people in less developedcountries will have an easy access to clean water and better sewage disposal. This, inturns, helps them to lead a healthier lifestyle and this is the key factor which enables
them to escape from extreme poverty. All in all, improving water supply and sanitationfacilities helps to improve their standard of living and quality of life. This promotesdevelopment in that particular country.Access(INDIA) Urban Rural TotalImproved water supply 96% 84% 88%Improved sanitation 54% 21% 31%Water pollution: Depleting ground water table and deteriorating ground water quality are threateningthe sustainability of both urban and rural water supply in many parts of India. The supply of cities thatdepend on surface water is threatened by pollution, increasing water scarcity and conflicts amongusers. For example, Bangalore depends to a large extent on water pumped since 1974 fromthe Kaveri River, whose waters are disputed between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. As inother Indian cities, the response to water scarcity is to transfer more water over large distances athigh costs. In the case of Bangalore, the US$744.5 million Kaveri Stage IV project, Phase II, includesthe supply of 500,000 cubic meter of water per day over a distance of 100 km, thus increasing thecitys supply by two thirds.1 Step taken: The program, calledSwajaldhara, decentralises service delivery responsibility to rurallocal governments and user groups. Under the new approach communities are being consulted andtrained, and users agree up-front to pay a tariff that is set at a level sufficiently high to cover operationand maintenance costs. It also includes measures to promote sanitation and to improve hygienebehaviour. The national program follows a pilot program launched in 1999. Aimed at improvingdrinking water availability in the rural areas, total 14 villages of the district have been selected for --Swajaldhara programme. Examples of selected villages include Veerpur and Silodhi. Stategovernment would construct small water tanks in these villages.Swajaldhara project assumes significance in the light of the fact that there are over one lakh ruralhabitations in the country that do not have drinking water of a suitable quality while some 15,000 donot have any drinking water supply while some 127,000 habitations are partially covered.
Effectiveness:According to a 2008 World Bank study in 10 Indian states, Swajaldhara results inlower capital costs, lower administrative costs and better service quality compared to the supply-driven approach. In particular, the study found that the average full cost of supply-driven schemesis US$0.80 per cubic meter, while it is only US$0.60 per cubic meter for demand-driven schemes.These costs include capital, operation and maintenance costs, administrative costs and coping costsincurred by users of malfunctioning systems. Coping costs include travelling long distances to obtainwater, standing in long queues, storing water and repairing failed systems.2 Step taken: Among the surveyed systems that were built using supply-driven approach systembreakdowns were common.Effectiveness: The quantity and quality of water supply were less than foreseen in designs, and 30%of households did not get daily supply in summer. The poor functioning of one system sometimesleads to the construction of another system, so that about 30% of households surveyed were servedby several systems. As of 2008 only about 10% of rural water schemes built in India used a demand-driven approach. Since water users have to pay lower or no tariffs under the supply-driven approach,this discourages them to opt for a demand-driven approach, even if the likelihood of the systemsoperating on a sustainable basis is higher under a demand-driven approach. Urgent Need For Sanitation In India: A Step Towards Better Health CareIndia has a population of almost 1.2 billion people. 55% of this population (nearly 600 million people)has no access to toilets. Most of these numbers are made up by people who live in urban slums and rural areas. A large populace in the rural areas still defecates in the open. Slum dwellers in major metropolitan cities, reside along railway tracks and have no access to toilets or a running supply of water. The situation in urban areas in terms of scale is not as serious as rural areas. However what escalate problems in urban areas is poor sewerage systems and highly congested living conditions. Sewerage systems, if present at all, suffers from poor maintenance which often leads to overflow of raw sewage. What makes matters worse is that the existing infrastructure isn’t suited to cater to the needs of an exponentially growing population. Wastewater treatment facilities are inadequate- Indianeither has enough water to flush out city effluents, nor does it have enough sewage treatment plants.
A report suggests that only 30% of India’s water is treated. The rest of the water makes its way intostreams and rivers inducing another major problem-water pollution. According to the country’s tenth 5year plan, 75% of India’s surface water resources are polluted and 80% of this is due to sewage alone. This has a severe impact on human health. The water pollution aids the transmission of oral-fecal diseases like diarrhea and other intestinal infections such as round worm and hook worm. Diarrhea alone accounts for over 535,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age. Several malnutrition cases in children due to contaminated water have also been reported. Polluted water is also breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, carriers of diseases like Malaria and Dengue fever are responsible for another 300,000 deaths in our country annually. Step & Effectiveness:In addition to health issues, poor sanitary measures set India back by billions of dollars every year. Illnesses are costly to families, and to the economy as a whole in terms of productivity losses and expenditures on medicines and health care. The economic repercussions are also evident in other areas like fisheries and tourism which are also hit by water related problems. As per World Bank statistics India’s nominal GDP stands at 1.3 Trillion dollars and we are currently ranked 11th in the world on basis of nominal GDP. If we could cut down expenses incurred due to illnesses and lack of productivity due to illnesses, our economy would get the impetus it needs toflourish even more. This in turn would enable governmental agencies to improve sanitation standards and medical infrastructure which would in turn help improve living standards of people. Overcomingthe demons of poor sanitation and addressing health issues arising out of the same will surely help us become a global superpower in a holistic sense.