Welcome to part 2 of my WASH and Equity Webinar summary. If you missed part 1 it’s below this post so just scroll down. Let’s get started. This first slide shows the inequality of urban drinking water coverage between the rich and the poor (note there’s a typo in the heading, the poorest 20% should say “left” end of the bar). It’s pretty shocking and makes it very easy to see the divide between rich and poor. This information was collected from surveys of people living in these countries and is very powerful tool both for advocacy as well as a tool to show the divide. At the bottom you see Egypt listed but it has no line. That’s because they have accomplished almost 100% coverage.
This next slide shows how people in the informal settlement of Mombassa get their water. As you can see most of the people in Mombassa rely on water kiosks to get their water, and very few have it piped to their house. This is in huge contrast to urban Kenya, where most of the people have piped water and very few have to depend on water kiosks. One thing that I found interesting about this slide is that in Mombassa there is a very small percentage of people using unimproved water sources but in urban Kenya there are still around 6-7% of the population using unimproved water sources. I figured there would be more people in the informal settlement that would be using unimproved sources.
At this point in the presentation we moved onto looking at the safety of water. This next slide covers , Ethiopia, Jordan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Tajikistan and shows just how much better the quality of piped water is than other improved water sources, but also shows that none of them got 100% compliance. Faecal contamination is the biggest problem in water quality around the world, and leads to thousands of deaths. This shows that even though you might think you have a safe water source you may not. The quality of water depends on, among other things, the maintenance of the equipment and the pipes as well as activity around the water source. If you have cracks in the pipes that are letting in dirty water than there’s really no point because the water is going to end up contaminated anyways.
The next slide is based on Nigeria from 1990-2008 and shows the percentage change in use of safe improved water sources, unsafe improved water sources (contaminated with thermotolerant coliforms), and unimproved water sources. As you can see all of the numbers are heading in the right direction, but they’re still lacking, especially in rural areas. In rural areas you still have people using unimproved water sources 58% of the time, and nationally it’s at 42%. The thing that is scary is that nationally you still have 10% of the population using unsafe IMPROVED water sources. This is scary because these people probably think that their water is clean since it’s coming from an improved source, but as we saw in the last slide improved sources are not always clean.
Below we are shown the sources of water in Southern Asia focusing mainly on the number of boreholes. In Southern Asia there are 310 million more people using boreholes in 2008 than there was in 1990. This is a good thing because that means less people are using unimproved water sources, but it brings up the question of if it is sustainable. In a lot of cases these boreholes end up not being sustainable because if they break down either there’s no one with the skills to fix them or the equipment needed is not available, and if the equipment or skilled manpower is available but needs to be paid for there’s often no money to do that. So with boreholes, as is the case with many similar improved water sources, the main challenge is finding a way to keep them running over time. This reminds me of an article I read the other day about a man that started his own business to fix wells, and now his business is thriving. You can read the article here if you’d like www.charitywater.org/projects/fromthefield/india3.php. We need to start learning that besides helping people to gain access to improved water sources there also needs to be investments in businesses that can go and fix them when they inevitably break down.
This last slide speaks to my previous point perfectly. This shows the percentage of hand pumps that are not functioning in several African countries. In the Congo it looks like the percentage is around 68%, and at the other end in Madagascar the percentage is better, but still at 10%. The average over all of these countries is 36%. This is troubling. Someone went to all of these countries to install the pumps which helped a lot of people and I’m sure was very expensive. But why do it if you’re not going to put a maintenance program in place so that the pumps can be fixed when they break? That would keep the water flowing while at the same time contributing to the local economy. It’s like if someone handing you a car for free, but then you had no access to a mechanic, no access to materials or tools to fix it, and even if you did you don’t have the skills to fix it so the first time the car breaks down it becomes useless and just sits there. Pretty pointless.
So that’s my summary of the presentation. Hope you enjoyed it and it was useful information. I’m going to try and do one of these a week for the next several weeks while this webinar series is going on so stop by next week to check it out. Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. And also please visit my facebook page and like hydratelife to show your support, facebook.com/hydratelife.