This Sunday marks the 22nd annual World Water Day. It’s a timely reminder and an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of access to water, sanitation and hygiene and the effects this has not only on public health, but poverty reduction and economic development.
Since 1990, more than two billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water, and almost as many have gained access to improved sanitation.
While these achievements have made a huge impact on the lives of families around the world, there are still 748 million people who lack access to safe drinking water. To add to this, an astounding 700,000 children die per day as a result of preventable diarrheal diseases due to lack of access to clean water and relying on poor water sources.
Habitat has made WASH an important part of its projects across the Asia Pacific region – that is projects that focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). A focus on WASH, not only improves community health, but reduces poverty and contributes to economic development by creating livelihood opportunities.
By providing access to clean water, toilets and drainage; hygiene education and waste management, we can create healthier and happier communities. This means children can attend school more often, and parents can work and earn an income without worrying about falling ill from unclean water sources or having to walk long distances to collect water.
Improving lives through WASH
Improving community health through WASH projects is a key part of our development approach at Habitat. Here are some families we’ve helped gain access to improved water sources…
Diep is a mason, as is her husband. They live in Tien Giang, Vietnam with their three children.
Through our Nine Dragons project, they have been able to build two new rain water tanks in their home. While this might seem like a basic addition, it has made a huge difference in the family’s life.
Before, the family only had four small water jars to share. In the rainy season, they would fill with water but when dry season came it would not take long for the four jars to completely run out. Diep would have to walk an hour each way to collect water from a canal. She would carry the water back to her home in a container strapped to her back. This long, tiring, journey had to be made multiple times a day. The only other option for Diep was to buy water which was very costly.
Now, with her new rain water tanks, the family will have enough water to last the dry season. Here’s what she told us: “I am very happy I will no longer need to carry water. My family will now have enough water to use comfortably and that is a great relief.”
Khadav is 11 years old. She lives in Angkor Chum, Cambodia with her parents and three sisters. Habitat for Humanity helped her family build a toilet in their home.
“I am very happy with the new toilet,” Khadav told us. “Before we would have to go to the toilet out in the open in the rice field.”
Khadav said she was scared of having to go to the toilet at night because she would have to walk alone in the dark through the fields. She and her sisters feel safer and comfortable to use a toilet in their own home. It is also acts a place where they can brush their teeth, shower and wash their clothes.