You are here

Life, death and clean water

In many countries, adequate toilet facilities are often taken for granted. However, their absence is quite literally a matter of life or death in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Tomorrow, Saturday 19 November, is World Toilet Day. It’s dedicated annually to raising awareness of the 2.6 billion people who still don’t have access to proper, clean sanitation. 

Lack of clean water

This is a serious issue. Every year, 2.2 million children under five die due to lack of clean water and hygiene. 

At any given time, half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases related to lack of safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

Promoting hygiene

But, these problems can be solved. Franck Flachenberg, Concern Worldwide’s environmental health adviser, said: 

A combination of improved sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion could transform the stark reality that approximately 2.2 million children under age five die annually from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene.  

Improved sanitation facilities can reduce diarrhoea-related deaths in young children by more than one third. If you also add hygiene promotion, such as teaching good hand washing techniques, these deaths could be reduced by two thirds.

Transforming lives

Concern is running water and sanitation programmes in 18 of the world’s poorest countries. This video, made in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, shows how our teams provided water to people affected by that disaster: