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Water and Sanitation

What's one of the most cost-efficient ways to improve the lives of people in the developing world? Simply meeting international standards for safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, at least according to the World Health Organization. As written up in the Financial Times:

In a report prepared for the World Health Organisation, the Swiss Tropical Institute estimates that providing 1.5bn people with an improved water supply and 1.9bn people with basic sanitation by 2015 would cost an extra $11.3bn (E9.5bn, £6.3bn) a year over and above current investment.

But the economic benefits, in terms of health and higher productivity, could be as high as $84bn annually, the study says. Further reductions in exposure to contaminated drinking water, for instance by disinfecting water after collection, could produce overall benefits between five and 60 times the amount invested.

2.4 billion people around the world don't have access to basic sanitation, while 1.1 billion don't have safe drinking water. The problem is particularly bad in Africa, where around 40% of the continent has access to neither appropriate sanitation or safe water.

The water study documents are available at the WHO website as PDFs.

(Via World Turning)

Comments (3)


Thanks for the heads up. This report should be circulated far and wide, and we should all pony up.

No ponying up required, or at least not much:


Ceramic filters, made by local potters using clay, sawdust, and a highish tech coating agent, but only $0.05 of that per pot. MIT certified that the design is as good as a commercial hiking filter.

Local housthold water purification is, to a first approximation, a soluble problem now, no pun intended.

Clean water for all is where I would like to concentrate any resources I may be able to spare. So along the lines of ponying up, where could I go to help make a difference?


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