To meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean water and sanitation for all, the current rate of progress must quadruple. 1.6 billion could remain without clean water in 2030 if nothing is changed, reports the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Drinking unsafe water poses a daily risk, with serious health consequences including sickness or death. When people start drinking water that is free from contamination, cases of waterborne disease drop dramatically. Babies have a better chance of living past the age of five, children can attend school regularly and parents can be steady providers. Water unlocks human potential and increases opportunities for people to succeed.
Sam Gil, Senior Global WASH Advisor at the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology, CAWST, believes that behavior change is key to achieve the goals needed to bring clean water to everyone.
Combine behavioral change with the right technology and services, and we can make lasting change.Sam Gil, Senior Global WASH Advisor at CAWST
There is more than one way to get safe water into a home. Household water treatment, for instance, follows the same steps as a municipal-level water treatment scheme, but can be done right at home: protect the source, treat the water, and transport and store it safely.
The Government of Colombia is determined to reach 100% coverage by 2030. To get there, they are embracing alternatives to piped, chlorinated water that meet acceptable drinking-water quality standards. This is recognized through a change in their legislation to include household water treatment in combination with a variety of water sources (eg., hand-dug wells, springs, surface water).
Many of the solutions they are introducing can be manufactured close to home with local materials and are far less complex to operate and maintain than traditional, chlorinated, piped systems. Through outreach and education, communities are able to select solutions based on their specific context and what they are able to sustain.
With this initiative, more people will be able to take action to bring safe drinking water into their homes and communities. More people taking action collectively is essential to achieving universal access to safe drinking water.
Millions of people collect and use water daily from a variety of sources including those that are contaminated with chemicals and feces (human and animal). In many situations, such as in rural and fragile environments, pipes are not practical. And while people wait years for a pipe to arrive, they face daily risks from consuming the water at hand.
Household water treatment options include everything from chlorine drops to biosand filters (filters that mimic nature to remove pathogens, using sand, gravel and a biological system). When people learn about and start using household water treatment for themselves and their families, it transforms their lives and provides an immediate solution to an immediate need.
Turning “water knowledge” into common knowledge is key to reaching more people faster and building the community resilience needed to confront challenges like Covid and climate change.
Effective awareness programs, technical training, appropriate resource materials and supportive networks can set up anyone for success. When people have the education and confidence they need to get started, action proliferates and we may yet reach the 2030 goal of safe water for all.