Water and sanitation
Over the past century, unclean water, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices have claimed more lives than anything else. Caritas Australia works with communities to develop access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities, as well as implement better hygiene practices.
Today, 783 million people do not have access to clean water, while 2.5 billion people don’t have proper sanitation facilities.
Polluted water and poor sanitation practices spread diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and malaria. These can cause extensive short and long-term health impacts.
Clean water, adequate sanitation facilities and better hygiene practices can prevent the spread of disease and even improve nutrition, as people are able to grow more crops when water is readily available.
Collecting water is one of the most laborious tasks in many developing countries, and the task of trekking many hours to collect it often falls to women and girls. Providing easy access to clean water means that girls are able to attend school instead of spending hours collecting water.
Caritas Australia’s response
Caritas Australia recognises that access to water and adequate sanitation is a human right, and is a necessity for improvements in many other living standards. Therefore, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities are frequently integrated into our holistic community development programs.
Our water, sanitation and hygiene activities include:
- Drilling boreholes and supporting communities to install water pumps so that they have access to clean water
- Developing other alternative safe water sources, such as ring wells and deep tube wells, rainwater harvesting tanks and sand filter systems
- Building covered toilets, pot racks and sanitation facilities, such as simple Tippy Taps for hygienic hand washing
- Providing education on improved hygiene practices
- Supporting training on food production and agriculture, including introducing systems which use minimum quantities of water
In 2011-12, Caritas Australia worked with local communities to build or rehabilitate over 3,000 water supply points and over 3,000 latrines with comprehensive sanitation facilities, and to educate communities who are benefiting from these facilities.
Together, these initiatives contribute to improving the health of communities through promoting the growth of nutrition crops and through reducing illnesses. These initiatives also provide marginalised communities with a greater sense of empowerment, and hope for the future.
To learn more about how Caritas Australia is supporting communities to access safe drinking water and develop adequate sanitation facilities, read CaritasNews Summer 2012, which is based around the theme of water, and features programs from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malawi.
Update - Water and the MDGs
The world has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, well ahead of the MDG 2015 deadline. Read more