Did you know that 9 out of 10 people around the world now have safer water to drink? And that almost 7 in 10 have safe toilets to use?
Since 1990, billions of people across the world have seen improved water, sanitation and hygiene conditions. Global poverty has halved.
Together, as one global community, we have made this happen.
But who has been left behind? In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 3 people still rely on contaminated water. 40 billion hours are lost every year collecting water, mainly by girls of school age. And, two thirds of the entire population are without basic sanitation, meaning they use a toilet that is an open pit, a bucket, shared with many others, or is simply an open piece of ground.
How can we change this inequality?
For more than 60 years, Amref Health Africa has partnered with communities across sub-Saharan Africa to bring about access to safe drinking water, and basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene are irrevocably linked to good health
; contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to preventable diseases like trachoma, which leads to blindness, or diarrhoea, which is the second-biggest killer of children under five.
Our solutions are developed in partnership with communities who want to see their access to clean water and safe toilets improved. Together, we install water sources, shower cubicles and toilets, and start discussions on toilet and hygiene practices that help to keep people healthy. We train a small group of people to take over the maintenance and management of the facilities. The groups make small profits which provide an income for staff and can be reinvested back into the upkeep of the facilities. In turn, this sparks interest in neighbouring communities.
Meskerem Mazoria is an urban slum with nearly 450 residents, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. The area has steadily become busier as it lies near to a main road. Local markets and stalls have popped up to capitalise on the passing trade. Yishak Alemayehu is a resident here and for him, the lack of access to toilets was a major concern. With Amref’s support, six shower cubicles and two toilets have been built. The facilities are looked after by five community members, one of whom is Yishak.
"Before the construction, the area was dirty and was used as a dump for all kinds of waste, including open defecation [people using the open space as a toilet]," he remembers. "It was impossible to find a clean, open space for our children and young people to use to play. It was so common to see people, mostly children, with colds and diarrhoea." For Yishak and his colleagues, the facilities not only ensure the community can access their right to health, but provide an opportunity to supplement their income, too.
If we are to see all the world’s population gain access to clean drinking water, an appropriate toilet, and have their basic sanitation and hygiene needs met, we need to continue reaching more people like Yishak, with community-driven, long-term solutions. You can be part of this change.
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