By Caro Bartenschlager
“On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”
On July 28th in 2010, the UN (United Nations) declared the access to water and sanitation as human right and calls on states to provide resources in order to assist developing countries in building water infrastructures to supply their citizens with their basic human right.
UN & Unicef 2021
An inconceivable number.
2021, almost eleven years after the UN recognition, still around 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have regular access to clean water. The availability of “Western” water treatment processes is very limited in developing countries. Climate change and natural phenomena are exacerbating water conditions in the poorest countries.
What are the possibilities for water treatment in developing countries? What are the reasons for the water problems specifically in Ethiopia? Let’s take a closer look at reasons & solutions:
Let’s start with a general look at water treatment:
According to dictionary.com, water treatment is „the act or process of making water more potable or useful, as by purifying, clarifying, softening, or deodorizing it.“ Water treatment therefore serves adapting raw water to the requirements of drinking water or technical water for instance.
Three types of water treatment are being differentiated:
- Elimination of substances
- Addition of substances
- Recovery (recycling) of substances (e.g. metals)
Furthermore, we distinguish four types of techniques to achieve water treatment depending on the purpose:
- Mechanical treatment: rake, filtration, screen/ sieve
- Physical treatment: Aeration, atomization, sedimentation, flotation, vacuum processes, thermal effects
- Chemical treatment: Oxidation, disinfection, flocculation, ion exchange, activated carbon (adsorption), osmosis
- Biochemical treatment: aerobic or anaerobic treatment
As mentioned above, technique selection is dependent on the purpose. Technical waters (e.g. for pharmaceutical use), for instance, pose different requirements on water treatment than drinking water.
How is water being treated in developing countries?
In a process known as solar water disinfection, bottled water is exposed to the sun for six hours. Germs can thus be largely destroyed by UV rays. Chlorination is another possibility to clarify water. However, it is necessary to mention that this type of processing is not very safe, since further treatment is actually required. Ceramic and Sand water filters are another water treatment possibility. Water flows through a filter having little pores, preventing contaminants from passing through. So called Membrane filters are more efficient but also more expensive than the other listed possibilities and therefore often not affordable for developing countries.
What are the reasons causing water issues especially in Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia, around 60% of the population do not have access to safe drinking water.
Additionally, 80% live in rural areas where water sources are not easily accessible. Like in most other developing countries, also in Ethiopia, girls & women are responsible to secure their families water supply. Each day, the majority among them have to walk several hours to the closest source fetching water for their families. This is also one of the main reasons why most girls cannot attend school on a regular basis to receive appropriate education.
Water must not only be available, it must also be safe.
Often filled with germs causing severe diseases, the source’s water quality poses additional issues. Due to climate change, water supply conditions are even aggravated. Weather phenomena like “El Nino” causing severe drought periods followed by “La Nina” causing massive rain falls leading to floods contribute to water insecurity as well as crop failure, displacement of people, death of livestock, eased condition for locusts’ invasion and accordingly to the facilitated outbreak of different maladies. These frequent and natural events are even deteriorated through climate change contributing to further diminish accessibility and increasing competition for water worldwide.
As already reported in an earlier blog post, in 2020 Ethiopia faced a triple crisis– the Corona pandemic, severe locusts’ invasion as well as floods. The weather phenomena El Nino & La Nina were especially severe in 2020. El Nino caused massive droughts leading to enormous crop failures. Due to locusts’ invasions – especially severe that year – the same year, crops were even further minimized leading to a hunger crisis in many parts of the country. The El Nino phenomenon was followed by La Nina inducing severe floods and facilitating the outbreak of different maladies. Limited access to sanitary facilities as a general issue in developing countries were even more fatal in light of the Corona pandemic. Additionally, in Ethiopia, the pandemic impeded the import of necessary pesticides to combat locusts swarm invasion since plenty borders were being closed.
The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”
UN July 28th in 2010
It is up to us helping developing countries building clean and safe water infrastructures, water treatment and water supply as well as assisting those countries to increase hygienic awareness among the population including the importance of sanitary facilities.
Worldwide around 2. billion people do not have access to sanitary facilities.
It is important to highlight that water must not only be available, but that the quality is also crucial. Unicef, for instance, establishes supply chains for the distribution of water purification tablets turning contaminated water into drinking water. Additionally, the organisation builds latrines and contributes spreading knowledge to build them in order to prevent the outbreak of different maladies like Cholera.
We, at Support Ethiopia, assist in developing the water infrastructure by building cisterns filtering water through stones as well as sand securing the water supply in the rural area called Oromia, close to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Abeba. Additionally, we take measures to create awareness for the significance of hygiene measures and are doing our part to help combat deforestation. In total, we already built 46.000 trees to help maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.
Got interested in supporting us to build Oromia’s water infrastructure?
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We are looking forward to meeting you!