15 Jun How Improving WASH can boost Health and wellbeing in Somalia by Elizabeth Adeyemo
Summary: WASH plays an undeniable role in Public Health. Research has shown that unsafe drinking water, lack of access to proper sanitation, and inadequate availability of water for hygiene contributes to about 88% of death from diarrheal diseases. Therefore, improving WASH-related practices has multiple advantages to overall health and wellbeing. Hunger Reduction International provides support to communities in Somalia by promoting WASH-centered messages and improving health and nutrition.
Did you know?
About 785 million people don’t have access to clean water
More than 2 billion people lack access to improve sanitation
31% of schools lack clean water (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2019).
Research has also shown that unsafe drinking water, lack of access to proper sanitation, and unavailability of water for hygiene contributes to about 88% of death from diarrheal diseases. Therefore, the role WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) plays in maternal and child health, disease prevention, and nutrition cannot be overemphasized. WASH has the potential to stop about 9.1% of the disease burden globally and 6.3% of all deaths.
Somalia is not left out of the equation either. Inadequate access to potable water is one of the major challenges the Somali people are facing, coupled with the climatic conditions, contamination of water sources, and conflicts. Only about 52% of their population have access to clean water, therefore many families have to travel far from home to get water from unsafe wells. Women and girls are most vulnerable, as they are tasked with the responsibility of collecting water, therefore reducing their likelihood of going to work or school. Even worse, they may be at risk of physical and sexual assault. Most people lack the vital requirement to maintain proper hygiene such as water and soap, and about 28% of the population practice open defecation.
Inadequate access to potable water, good sanitation, and healthy hygienic practices can contribute to preventable diseases like cholera, diarrhea, other water-borne diseases, and respiratory diseases. According to Relief Web 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview, there is a heightened risk of water-borne disease outbreaks especially in places without access to a health care facility due to severe lack of access to potable water and sanitation. The lack of access to clean water is one of the leading causes of children’s drop out of school.
WASH Intervention programs need to be implemented to encourage the use of safe drinking water, washing of hands before and after eating or defecation, and other hygienic and sanitation practices; to reduce the outbreaks of water-borne diseases and hygiene-related diseases and improve overall health and wellbeing.
Hunger Reduction International is a relief organization working relentlessly in Somalia to promote WASH-relate programs including sensitization, individual and community awareness on healthy WASH practices, to improve health outcomes and reduce the disease burden. HRI also supports access to safe drinking water, healthy hygienic and sanitation practices, and maternal and child health.