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Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old. The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.
In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely contaminated.
Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families. Along their long walk, they’re subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. With safe water nearby, women are free to pursue new opportunities and improve their families’ lives.
“Water is an astonishingly complex and subtle force in an economy. It is the single constraint on the expansion of every city, and bankers and corporate executives have cited it as the only natural limit to economic growth.”
We focus on life’s most basic need — water. But to significantly cut down disease rates in the developing world, water is just the first step. Almost everywhere we build a freshwater well, we also require sanitation training. In some communities, we build latrines; at the very least, we promote simple hand-washing stations made with readily-available materials. Clean water can greatly alleviate the world’s disease burden, but only with education and hygienic practice. charity: water is committed to using water as a gateway to sanitary living.
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