The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time for reflection, both for the experiences of 2014 and the goals of 2015. Here at Arc Solutions, we look forward to a year full of new projects that will increase water, sanitation, and hygiene access for those living in conflict zones. We also reflect on why the work we do matters.
The statistics tell part of the story: 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, 748 million people lack access to an improved source of drinking water, and 1 billion people defecate outside in the world. A reported 1,800 children die each day, and 3.4 million people die each year from waterborne diseases In warzones, a person is three times more likely to be without access to safe water as a person living in a peaceful country.
But the numbers can be overwhelming in scope, and easy to forget. They leave out that children who survive diarrheal episodes due to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene are more susceptible to malnutrition, pneumonia, and stunted growth. In turn, these illnesses can lead to impaired cognitive function and physical capabilities, lower levels of education, and a less productive society The numbers also leave out that in areas where water access is low, women and children are usually responsible for traveling long distances to retrieve water, which can be dangerous to their safety and forces more children to miss school.
In conflict zones, these risks are heightened. The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that in many conflicts, more civilians are killed by diseases than by bullets.? Women and children retrieving water face the risk of rape and abduction. And, given the increased risk and difficulties of delivering services and assistance, NGO?s and non-profits may cease to operate within conflict zones, leaving many people?s needs unmet.
This picture can seem bleak and overwhelming. What can I do about this? How can I possibly make a difference? Where do I start?
At Arc Solutions, we recognize these difficulties, but we also know there is hope. There is love. There is resilience. We are committed to actively engaging and working with people living in conflict zones to increase access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. We partner with local organizations to find sustainable solutions that work for the community and adapt to the context of where we work. As we kick off 2015, and continue our work in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Gaza, and Somalia, we remember that people are at the heart of what we do.
This new year, we encourage you to engage learn more about our projects, ask questions, donate, or tell a friend about our work. With your help, Arc Solutions and our partners can work hand in hand with more communities to implement projects that improve water, sanitation and hygiene in 2015 and years to come.
-Kaitlyn Lyle, Arc Solutions Intern
WHO/UNICEF (2014) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. Progress on sanitation and drinking-water, 2014 Update.
UNICEF. (2013) Children dying daily because of unsafe water supplies and poor sanitation and hygiene. UNICEF Press Release: New York.
World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Safer water, better health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.?
Uauy, R., Kaine, J., Corvalan, C. (2011). How can the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis contribute to improving health in developing countries? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(6):1759S-1764S.
ICRC. (2009). Ensuring water supply for civilians in war zones.
Welle, K. (2008). Improving the provision of basic services for the poor in fragile environments: Water supply, sanitation, and hygiene international literature review. Oversees Development Institute: London.