Global

Safe Water and Sanitation Save Lives Worldwide

  • March 20, 2015
  • Newsroom

Clean water saves lives.

Yet 763 million people lack daily access to safe water, and 2.5 billion people live without adequate sanitation. People facing the greatest risk live in impoverished countries with few resources.

“Providing sustainable access to improved water sources is one of the most important things we can do to reduce disease,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan. On World Water Day and every day,AmeriCares helps to provide safe water access, good hygiene and sanitation (WASH) to people at risk here at home and worldwide.

Water Safe to Drink

To ensure that families have access to this most basic need, AmeriCares provides clean water and tablets that purify water so it is safe to drink. In the past four years, we’ve provided 11 million water purification tables to 35 countries, enough to ensure a month’s worth of clean drinking water for more than 380,000 people.

In 2014, as part of our emergency response to violence in Mali and the lingering refugee and hunger crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, AmeriCares delivered nearly 6 million P&G Purifier of Water packets to our partners in Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- saving tens of thousands of displaced families in the region from resorting to untreated local water sources. The shipments were part of a series of aid deliveries aimed at reducing the level of human suffering among those affected by conflict and hunger.

“Malnourished children and adults are very susceptible to infectious disease and face an even greater risk of contracting deadly diarrheal diseases such as cholera from unclean water,” explained AmeriCares Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese.

To prevent cholera in Namibia, in 2014 AmeriCares provided enough water purification supplies to give 68,000 people a month’s supply of clean drinking water. In response to a cholera outbreak in Juba, South Sudan, we supported a local partner with rehydration therapy for 5,000 people with moderate and severe cases of cholera.

U.S. Emergency Water Deliveries

Even where there is infrastructure, water emergencies can occur. When families in Detroit were without water service in July 2014, AmeriCares delivered more than 30,000 bottles of water with support from our long-term partner Nestlé Waters North America. “Bottled water was a critical need for thousands of Detroit residents living in homes without running water,” said AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia.

A month later, AmeriCares delivered three truckloads of bottled water to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank when an algae bloom in Lake Erie left hundreds of thousands of Ohio residents without drinkable water. Toxins from the algae bloom contaminated Toledo’s water supply; residents were at risk for diarrhea, rashes and vomiting.

AmeriCares also worked with longtime partner Nestle Waters North America and other partners to supply more than 109,000 bottles of water to help families in areas devastated by the May 2013 tornadoes in and around Moore, Oklahoma.  In July, 2013, when wildfires swept through Yarnell, Arizona, claiming lives and destroying homes, we worked with Nestle Waters North America to provide more than 38,000 water bottles to help survivors, volunteers and first responders.  

When tornadoes tore through tiny Gifford, Illinois, in November 2013, the town’s water tower was damaged, leaving the community with an inadequate supply – affecting the quality of the water and the town’s ability to fight fires. AmeriCares repaired the tower, re-establishing flow, and then built a new tower, ensuring health and safety for generations to come

Improving Sanitation in Haiti

Worldwide...

763 million

people lack access to safe water

2.5 billion

live without adequate sanitation

Access to safe water and sanitation makes a crucial difference for families in Haiti, where heavy rains and lack of proper infrastructure promote the spread of cholera and other life-threatening diseases. Since the 2010 outbreak, AmeriCares remains at the forefront of the fight against cholera, providing treatment supplies along with water treatment tablets, bleach, soap, buckets and hygiene supplies to help people prevent this deadly diarrheal disease before it strikes.

Already in 2015, AmeriCares has provided 10,000 water purification tablets to community health organizations in Haiti, ensuring a month’s worth of clean drinking water for 1,100 people.

We also work to combat cholera by attacking it where it starts: with poor sanitation. In November, 2013, AmeriCares Haiti funded the construction of a new community latrine and hand-washing station for Rezo Koze Lasante clinic -- the only health center providing basic primary care to a large area of Thomand – a rural community of 13,500. 

Construction of the latrine was part of a larger grant to improve the quality of health care provided in the community and reduce diarrheal disease transmission. The project included installation of a septic tank, a water reservoir and rainwater-harvesting system, construction of another modern three-cabin toilet and a 400-gallon water tank to supply the health clinic with water. This construction effort is one of a number of similar projects supported by the Haiti team to improve sanitation.