We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or any of the other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.
- Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

Water and Health

Polluted drinking water is one of the main reasons for early death of children. Wherever clean water and sanitary facilities are missing, pathogens and parasites spread particularly fast. That leads to the transmission of numerous diseases. Many of these diseases lead to death in connection with malnutrition and other diseases.

The most frequent diseases are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Malaria
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Guinea-Worm

Facts and Figures

Polluted water causes diseases and death

  • 4 billion cases of diarrhoea cause 2.2 m deaths
  • In the last ten years more humans died from diarrhoea than in all armed conflicts since World War II.
  • 352 m humans in Africa (88 % of the cases worldwide) come down with malaria every year.
  • 312 m humans in Africa come down with schistosomiasis, of which 119 m are children under the age of 15.
  • 208 m humans in Africa (52 % of the cases worldwide) come down with trachoma every year, of which 6 m are already blind.
  • 5 m humans die from water-related diseases every year. Among them are 1.5 m children every year; that is 4,000 children every day.
  • 78 % of the cases of schistosomiasis worldwide appear in Afrika

Clean water in sufficient quantity saves lives

The supply of clean water to the world population and the access to adequate sanitary facilities are some of the largest challenges in the next decades.
Clean water helps to avoid diseases:

  • About 1.7 m deaths
  • 20 % of diarrhoea
  • 50 % of deaths by diarrhoea
  • Diarrhoea risk can be lowered by approx. 33 % if clean water for hand washing is available
  • 25 % of deaths among children under the age of five
  • 25 % of trachoma

Polluted drinking water in Sub-Sahara-Africa alone causes major losses by a decrease of working hours and rising expenditures for health costs at a value of annually 28 billion US$; that is 5 % of their economic power. That is more than these countries received in the year 2003 as development aids and debt cancellations combined.

Thus, it is about time to set the foundation for sustainable water management in Africa.