WOMENAID µ INTERNATIONAL
An important aspect of primary health care is the provision of clean water in adequate quantities. For many people in developing countries this is one of the most difficult problems to cope with. Yet approximately three out of five people in developing countries do not have easy access to safe drinking water.
Water has a vital impact on people's health. A large percentage of the infectious and parasitic diseases that plague the developing world are associated with inadequate water and sanitation.
The provision of water for household use in most societies is the task of women. They spend sometimes as much as six hours a day walking long distances and carrying heavy loads of water. In years of insufficient rain Dogon women in Mali, for example, have to undergo extreme hardship while collecting water from remote places in the mountains. This arduous task uses much of women's energies and time, which in turn has serious consequences for their and their families health. The heavy jars or cans that they carry on their heads can lead to back-trouble, while tasks such as child-care or income-raising activities may suffer due to lack of time. In addition, in many places women spend more time actually working in the water washing clothes for instance - and so may be more often exposed to the water-borne diseases.
Because of its association with women, the provision of water is one of those tasks always undervalued and largely ignored. As a result, appropriate technology to alleviate this burdensome task is lacking, and insufficient efforts are made to provide communities with safe and convenient sources of water. Inadequate provision of water and safe sanitary facilities is in turn very costly to the community or to the government. The economic loss due to diseases and disability resulting from lack of water and sanitation is enormous, and the overall development of society is delayed.
AND SANITATION RELATED DISEASES
related to inadequate sanitation:
These diseases exact a high toll in human life and suffering. Although women are the providers and main users of water, they are seldom consulted when it comes to the initiation of water projects. Preparatory meetings are often held at times when women cannot attend, and little effort is made to ensure their participation. Male engineers and administrators usually believe that women are incapable of managerial roles in relation to water and sanitation. This belief is based on an insufficient understanding of women's managerial roles in the home, where they are obliged to make careful decisions about the allocation of family resources and the budgeting of time and energy. However, women are more effective in protecting pumps, latrines and water sources and are also capable of learning the skills necessary for their maintenance. Therefore, it is in the interest of the entire community to provide the necessary know-how to those who will actually use the water-sources most.
relationship of poor hygiene to poverty is particularly important but
Without concurrent hygiene education, especially for women, the
benefits of safe water supply and sanitation, so essential for basic
health, are limited.