Water and Sanitation
Next to air, the other important requirement for human life to exist is water. It is available in solid, liquid and gas forms. The occurance of water in all these three forms is basically important for various forms of life. As a matter of fact, every living soul requires water for its survival. It is essential for life, health and sanitation. The water plays an important role in the manufacture of essential commodities, generation of electric power, transportation, recreation, industrial activities, etc.

Drinking water is water that is of sufficiently high quality so that it can be consumed or used without risk of immediate or long term harm. Over large parts of the worlds, humans drink water that contains disease vectors or pathogens or contain unacceptable levels of dissolved contaminants or solids in suspension. Such waters are not potable water and drinking such waters leads to widespread acute and chronic illness and are a major cause of death in many countries. According to the latest estimates of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), released in early 2013 (collected in 2011), 36 per cent of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more. Common water and sanitation-related diseases are:-
Diarrhoea is caused by a variety of micro-organisms including viruses, bacteria and protozoan’s. Diarrhoea causes dehydration and, in some cases, to death. About 4 billion cases of diarrhoea per year cause 1.8 million deaths, over 90 per cent of them (1.6 million) among children under five. Repeated episodes of diarrhoeal disease makes children more vulnerable to other diseases and malnutrition. Diarrhoea is the most important public health problem directly related to water and sanitation. Providing adequate sanitation facilities, it is the key to preventing waterborne diseases.
Arsenicosis-Long-term exposure to low concentrations of arsenic in drinking-water causes painful skin keratosis (hardened lesions) and can result in cancers of the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. Millions of people are potentially in danger from arsenic poisoning since they rely on water supplies that are contaminated with arsenic (mainly from natural sources) and do not have a safe water alternative or are unaware of the risks.
Cholera is an acute bacterial infection of the intestinal tract. It causes severe attacks of diarrhoea that, without treatment, can quickly lead to acute dehydration and death. Cholera is a world-wide problem and in 2002, over 120,000 cholera cases were reported worldwide.
Fluorosis is a serious bone disease caused by high concentrations of fluoride occurring naturally in groundwater. Fluorosis is endemic in at least 25 countries across the globe.
Intestinal worms -People become infected with intestinal parasitic worms (also known as helminthes) through contact with soil that has been contaminated with human faces from an infected person, or by eating contaminated food. Intestinal worms infect about 10 % of the population in the developing world and, depending upon the severity of the infection, lead to malnutrition, anemia or retarded growth. Children are particularly susceptible and typically have the largest number of worms.
Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite carried by certain types of mosquitoes. Humans are infected when bitten by the mosquitoes. Each year, there are 300 million to 500 million cases of malaria throughout the world and about 1 million child deaths.
Trachoma is an eye infection spread mainly through poor hygiene caused by lack of adequate water supplies and unsafe environmental sanitation conditions. About 6 million people are blind today because of trachoma. It affects women two to three times more than men. Children are also especially susceptible.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. Symptoms are characterized by headaches, nausea and loss of appetite. About 12 million people are affected by typhoid every year.
The Water & Sanitation Crisis in India
India’s huge and growing population is putting a severe strain on all of the country’s natural resources. Most water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water. In India, diarrhea alone causes more than 1,600 deaths daily. Hygiene practices also continue to be a problem in India. Latrine usage is extremely poor in rural areas of the country; only 14% of the rural population has access to a latrine. In order to decrease the amount of disease spread through drinking-water, latrine usage and hygiene must be improved simultaneously.
Improving Drinking Water And Sanitation Services
There are five interventions for improving drinking water and sanitation services. They are:-
Meeting basic sanitation demand
Increasing access to safe drinking water
Focusing on changing hygiene behavior
Promoting household water treatment
Ensuring more health for the money
Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and precious natural asset. It is a life supporting life sustaining, and life-purifying element, and is sacred. The extent to which water is abundant or scarce, clean or polluted, beneficial or destructive has a major influence on the rapidly changing world, ever increasing population and fast rate of scientific and technological advancement.
Drinking water MDG target met, sanitation lags behind
According to recent estimates, India and Nepal have already met their MDG water targets, but sanitation coverage remains poor (source: infochangeindia.org)
China, India making poor progress on sanitation: UN
Worldwide, 5 billion people are expected to be without a connection to public sewerage by 2030 -- that’s 1.1 billion more people than in 2000, according to latest estimates (source: infochangeindia.org).
Drinking-water quality: WHO Guidelines
Drinking-water quality is an issue utmost concern for human health. This does not simply restricted to developing countries, but in developed countries as well. WHO produces international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries world-wide.
Water and Sanitation: Unexaggerated figures
About forty per cent of the world’s population (i.e., around 2.6 billion people) still lack basic sanitation facilities. More than one billion people are not accessible to safe drinking water. In every minute about six children are dying in developing countries due to diseases caused by unsafe water and inadequate sanitation.