The World Bank estimates that 21 per cent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of hygiene practices. Further, more than 500 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhoea in India alone.
According to Wild Water, State of the World’s Water 2017, a report by WaterAid, a global advocacy group on water and sanitation, 63.4 million people in India are living without access to clean water. The report also mentions that only 16 per cent of rural poor have access to clean water.
That is more than the combined population of Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand. When we compare this figure at global level, that is as many people as live in Australia, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Bulgaria – combined.
Dr Bhosale, gynaecologist from Sassoon General Hospital, Pune, said, “It is a vicious cycle. When one do not have access to safe drinking water, it leads to spread of water borne diseases, which further increases expenses for poor in developing country. This adds burden on for poor on financial fronts, leading to further neglect of healthy eating and hygienic lifestyle. In a country like India, even by providing access to safe drinking water to can prevent thousands of deaths and save millions of rupees.”
Waterborne diseases are conditions caused by pathogenic micro-organisms that are transmitted in water. Disease can be spread while bathing, washing or drinking water, or by eating food exposed to infected water. Various forms of waterborne diarrhoeal disease are the most prominent examples, and affect children in developing countries most dramatically.
Vinod Shende, Health activist from Pune said, “The government should focus on providing basic facility like clean drinking water first. Once that is ensured it will add up to economic productivity.”