Many Lack Access to Safe Drinking Water
According to a 2010 report coauthored by WHO and UNICEF, 900 million people do not have access to safe supply of drinking water. From recent World Health Organization (WHO) reports, the impact of diarrhoeal disease on children is greater than the combined impact of HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, and malaria; several different reports conclude that provision of improved sanitation and drinking water could reduce diarrhoel diseases by nearly 90%.
As you would expect, access to a safe supply of drinking water is an absolute prerequisite to solving sanitation problems.
The economic impact is profound. In poor rural areas, women and girls spend, on average, 15 to 17 hours per week collecting water. Poor children around the world miss 443 million days of school each year because of water-related illnesses. In 60 countries in the developing world, more than half of primary schools have no adequate water facilities and nearly two thirds lack adequate sanitation. close to half of all people in developing countries suffer from health problems resulting from a lack of water and sanitation.
Per the GLAAS 2010 report (footnote), “Increasing people's access to sanitation and drinking water brings large benefits to the development of individual countries through improvements in health outcomes and the economy.”
The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman will have during her lifetime. It is universally acknowledged that a high birthrate is a major factor perpetuating poverty in the world’s poorest. While many debate the means by which the fertility rate of the poorest should be reduced, one statistical relationship points to a solution.
Macroeconomic research shows that just somewhat higher living standards, and the better communications and more education that come with them, enable those escaping poverty to rely on markets and public services, not just themselves and their family.
As a result, fertility starts to drop at an annual income per person of $1,000-2,000 and falls until it hits the replacement level at an income per head of $4,000-10,000 a year. This roughly tracks the passage from poverty to middle-income status and from an agrarian society to a modern one. Thereafter fertility continues at or below replacement until, for some, it turns up again.
The amazing thing is that this is true across all societies, and even for poor regions in otherwise above-subsistence countries.
Consider, then, the potential impact of taking back the 15 to 17 hours per week that poor women and girls spend collecting water. It would substantially boost the productivity of over half of the entire population.
Handpump Reliability a Major Part of the Problem
In his recent essay, Edward D. Breslin, CEO, Water for People, says it best, “But the images that dominate - pictures of children happily gulping water from a new tap - do not tell the whole story. The real image should be the one that plays itself out every day all over the world -- of the woman walking slowly past a broken handpump, bucket at her side or on her head, on her way to (or from) that scoop hole or dirty puddle that she once hoped would never again be part of her life... The broken handpump is a constant reminder of our inability to escape poverty."
Simple Pump Can Help
As will be explained in more detail, by any measure, the hand pumps deployed in the developing world are quite unreliable. All the data we have show that Simple Pumps are many times more reliable.
The initial purchase price of the currently-used pumps is significantly less than a Simple Pump. Therefore, many find it surprising that, compared to the pumps currently deployed in developing nations, Simple Pumps are several times less expensive to buy, install and operate, if total costs over the useful life of both pumps is considered.
Many factors will determine whether much of the world’s destitute will be able to escape subsistence-level poverty. However, it is inescapable that such an achievement will depend upon dramatically improving the reliability of handpumps, and therefore the availability of clean water. We expect that, when you know the facts, the Simple Pump will be the obvious choice.
Footnote to this page:
1. GLAAS 2010, UN Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water, released April, 2010; World Health Organization & Institute for Water, Environment and Health, UN University.