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| Last Updated:: 23/12/2014

Water and Sanitation

Every eight seconds a child dies of a water-related disease. Every year more than five million human beings die from illnesses linked to unsafe drinking water, unclean domestic environments and improper excreta disposal.

At any given time perhaps one-half of all peoples in the developing world are suffering from one or more of the six main diseases associated with water supply and sanitation (diarrhoea, ascaris, dracunculiasis, hookworm, schistosomiasis and trachoma). In addition, the health burden includes the annual expenditure of over ten million person-years of time and effort by women and female children carrying water from distant, often polluted sources.

Nearly a quarter of humanity still remains today without proper access to water and sanitation.

During the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990), some 1600 million people were served with safe water and about 750 million with adequate excreta disposal facilities. However, because of population growth of 800 million people in developing countries, by 1990 there remained a total of 1015 million people without safe water and 1764 million without adequate sanitation.

Overall progress in reaching the unserved has been poor since 1990. Approximately one billion people around the world still lack safe water and more than two billion do not have adequate excreta disposal facilities. Rapid population growth and lagging rates of coverage expansion has left more people without access to basic sanitation today than in 1990.

Another problem with coverage goals is the magnitude of resources needed to achieve them. At the Global Consultation of Safe Water and Sanitation for the 1990s, held in New Delhi in 1990, it was stated that universal coverage by the year 2000 would require US$ 50 billion per year, a five-fold increase in current investment levels.

In 1992, WHO concluded its monitoring of the Decade with the estimate that a total of US$ 133.9 billion had been invested in water supply and sanitation during the period 1981-1990, of which 55% was spent on water and 45% on sanitation. Urban areas received 74% of the total and rural areas only 26%. Contrary to widespread perceptions, almost two-thirds of all funds were provided by national sources and only a third by external organizations.

WHO estimates that it costs an average of US$ 105 per person to provide water supplies in urban areas and US$ 50 in rural areas, while sanitation costs an average of US$ 145 in urban areas and US$ 30 in rural areas.

Water supply and sanitation can be viewed as a process having three interactive elements. The most fundamental of these elements is the availability of safe drinking water and sanitary means of excreta disposal. This means 20 to 40 litres of water per person per day located within a reasonable distance from the household. Safe water implies protection of water sources as well as proper transport and storage within the home. It also means facilities for bathing and for washing clothes and kitchen utensils which are clean and well-drained. Sanitary excreta disposal is the isolation and control of faeces from both adults and children so that they do not come into contact with water sources, food or people. To break the transmission chain of faecally-related diseases, good standards of personal and domestic hygiene, which begin with handwashing after defecation, are essential.

A second element in the water and sanitation development process is the use and care of water and sanitation facilities. People must use these facilities properly to obtain the health benefits inherent in them. This means knowing how to protect and store water safely, how to maintain personal and domestic cleanliness, how to care for excreta disposal facilities and how to avoid or minimize unsanitary environmental conditions. Knowledge transfer, behaviour change and personal responsibility are the key factors.

The third of the interactive elements is the institutional support from the communities, developing agencies and government policies that provide a framework for water and sanitation improvements. Experience has shown that community-based efforts, whether in a small village or a large metropolis, are most effective in identifying and meeting peoples' needs. Governments, especially at the regional and national levels, are more effective as facilitators of the development process than providers of water and sanitation improvements.

Water contaminated by human, chemical or industrial wastes can cause a variety of communicable diseases through ingestion or physical contact:

Water-borne diseases: caused by the ingestion of water contaminated by human or animal faeces or urine containing pathogenic bacteria or viruses; include cholera, typhoid, amoebic and bacillary dysentery and other diarrhoeal diseases.

Water-washed diseases: caused by poor personal hygiene and skin or eye contact with contaminated water; include scabies, trachoma and flea, lice and tick-borne diseases.

Water-based diseases: caused by parasites found in intermediate organisms living in water; include dracunculiasis, schistosomiasis and other helminths.

Water-related diseases: caused by insect vectors which breed in water; include dengue, filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis and yellow fever.

No single type of intervention has greater overall impact upon the national development and public health than does the provision of safe drinking water and the proper disposal of human excreta. The direct effects of improved water and sanitation services upon health are most clearly seen in the case of water-related diseases, which arise from the ingestion of pathogens in contaminated water or food and from insects or other vectors associated with water. Improved water and sanitation can reduce morbidity and mortality rates of some of the most serious of these diseases by 20% to 80%.

 

Water and Sanitation in India’s Census-2012

 

The Census-2012 has given a very dismal picture water and sanitation facilities in India. Improper planning and casual implementation of schemes coupled with rampant corruption and irregularities in the concerned departments as well as lack of awareness among the public particularly in the rural areas have made India to be left behind in this most basic and important aspect of public health. The statistics on drinking water and sanitation of Assam also indicate a very disturbing picture.

 

The Census-2011 report on water and sanitation says that out of 246,692,667 (191,963,935 in 2001) surveyed households 43.5% (36.7% in 2001) in India have tap water, 11% (18.2% in 2001) has wells, 42% (41.2% in 2001) hand pump/tube well and 3.5% (3.9% in 2001) has other sources of drinking water. The Census-2011 added two new queries on treated and untreated drinking water and on covered or uncovered source of drinking water. Here the report says only 32% of Indians use treated drinking water while 11.6% do not use treated drinking water.Similarly only 1.6% households use drinking water from covered sources while 9.4% do not have that. In Assam out of 6,367,295 households only 10.5% (9.2% in 2001) has tap water, 18.9% (26.7% in 2001) has wells and majority 59.4% (46.9% in 2001) use tube wells for drinking water followed by 11.3 % (14.6%) having drinking water from other sources. This is almost ten percentage drop of use of wells and more than 10 percent increase of the use of tube wells for drinking water in Assam. Likewise the only three percent fall of the use of drinking water from other sources like ponds and rivers is also a matter of concern and indicates the failure of concerned departments in policy making and implementation. In the rural sector the statistics of drinking water condition of the Census-2011 both the national and state figures are of mixed results. While 30.8% (24.3% in 2001) household in rural India has tap water sources for drinking water Assam has only 6.8% (5.4% in 2001). The national figure of wells for drinking water in the rural sector is 13.3% (22.2% in 2001) Assam has 19% (29% in 2001). 51.9% (48.9% in 2001) of rural household in India have drinking water from tube wells while the percentage in Assam is 61.5% (51.4%). On other sources of drinking water in rural India the findings are 4% (4.5% in 2001) and in rural Assam is 12.6% (16.2% in 2001). On treated drinking water the percentage in rural India is 17.9% and that of rural Assam is 5.8%. On untreated water the national figure in the rural sector is 13% and in Assam it is only 1%. Only 1.5% rural households in India collect drinking water from covered sources while in Assam the percentage is dismal 1.1%. Similarly on uncovered sources of drinking water the national figure of rural India is 11.8% and in Assam it is 18%.

 

In the urban sector the all India Census-2011 findings of drinking water are like this:-70.6% (68.7% in 2001) using tap water, only 6.2% (7.7% in 2001) using wells, 20.8% (11.8% in 2001) using hand pumps/ tube wells and 2.55 (2.3% in 2001) using other sources. In Assam statistics are very unimpressive:-30.2% (31.4% in 2001) using tap water which is 1.02% less than the last census, 17.8% (24.6% in 2001) using wells, 48% (35.9% in 2001) using tube wells and 4% (5.1% in 2001) using from other sources. Similarly on the use of treated water in the urban sector Assam’s figure (29.4%) is far less than the national figure (62%). 4.5% of urban households in Assam have drinking water from covered sources while 13.1% do not have such.

 

The distance of availability of water from the households is one important matter of concern. The 2011 Census reveals encouraging picture of Assam from the national level. While 46.6% (39% in 2001) Indian households have availability of drinking water inside their premises in Assam the figure is well above 54.8% (37.9% in 2001). The availability of drinking water near the households in India is 35.8% (44.3% in 2001). In Assam it is also less than national figure, from 39.7% in 2001 to 26.7% in 2011. However the state is ahead on the availability of drinking water away from the household. Here Assam’s figure is 18.5% (22.5% in 2001) and that of India is 17.6% (16.7% in 2001). On this same category Assam also has impressive figures in the rural sector than the all India figures with 50.4% (33.6% in 2001) of households having drinking water source available within the premises while the national figure is 35% (28.7% in 2001). There is a fall in households in rural Assam of availability of drinking water near the premises from 41.9% in 2001 to 29.3% this time. In India the figure is 42.9% (51.4% in 2001). The availability of drinking water away from the households in the rural sector is 22.1% (19.5% in 2001) at the national level while in Assam it is 20.4% (24.5% in 2001). Assam too has advanced in availability of drinking water sources within the households in the urban sector than the all India level with 78.8% (63.2% in 2001) while national figure is 71.2% (65.4% in 2001). Drinking water sources near urban households in India is 20.7% (25.2% in 2001) and in Assam is 12.8% (26.3% in 2001) while away from the households the national figure is 8.1% (9.4% in 2001) and the that of the state is 8.4% (10.5% in 2001).

 

On 6th March, the WHO/UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme on sanitation for Millennium Development Goal released its report on India which indicated that 59% (626 million) Indians still does not have access to toilets and they use open defecation. The Census-2011 gives another disturbing account of India on sanitation which says 53.1% (63.6% in 2001) households in India does not have a toilet. In the rural sector the percentage is 69.3% (78.1% in 2001) and in the urban areas it is 18.6% (26.3% in 2001). In Assam overall 35.1% (35.4% in 2001) households have no toilet. That means in the last ten years the governmental schemes could reach only 0.3% of the households. In rural Assam the picture is as same as in 2001 with 40.4% households with no toilet in 2011 Census. In the urban areas the state has 6.3% (5.4% in 2001) households with no toilet. Assam also has over all only 28.5% (15.9% in 2001) households have toilets with water closet (all India figure is 36.4% as against 18% in 2001), 34.7% (43.9% in 2001) households have pit latrines (all India 9.4% as against 11.5%) and 1.8% (4.3% in 2001) households have other types of toilet (all India 1.1% as against 6.9% in 2001). In the rural sector Assam has 20.6% (8.6% in 2001) households having toilets with water closet (all India 19.4% as against 7.1% in 2001), 37.2% (46.9% in 2001) households have pit latrines (all India 10.5% as against 10.3% in 2001) and 1.8% (4% in 2001) households have other toilets (all India 0.8% as against 4.5% in 2001). Similarly in the urban sector the state has an impressive development with 71% (58.9% in 2001) households having toilet with water closet (all India 72.6% as against 46% in 2001). In the pit latrine category Assam has urban households 21.01% (26.4% in 2001) where the national figure is 7.1% (14.6% in 2001). The state has 1.7% (9.3%) urban households with other toilets (all India 1.7% as against 13% in 2001 Census).

 

The increase of allocation of funds for rural drinking water in this year’s union budget from Rs 11,000 Crores to Rs 14,000 Crores and from Rs 1500 Crores to Rs 3500 Crores for the rural sanitation programme is the immediate step taken by the union government to address this problem. However policy making and implementation and public awareness hold the key to improve the water and sanitation standards of India.

 

Source: Scoop News

 

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