WASH is an acronym for “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene,” which are three interlinked public health issues considered by development programs. In countries with poor infrastructure, WASH is a major way to greatly improve quality of life, with positive outcomes in overall health, life expectancy and gender equality, to list a few.
Some of the key issues include:
Access to clean and safe water: By 2010, 85% of the globe has access to piped water supply including through protected wells and public infrastructure. However, this leaves 884 million people (14%) without access to safe water sources. These communities use unprotected wells or water directly from bodies of water. When the use of unprotected water sources is paired with a lack of proper sanitation procedures in the community, the critical issue facing these populations is the contamination of water by fecal matter and waterborne illnesses.
Development of adequate sanitation infrastructure: Sanitation includes preventing human contact with wastes as well as adequate treatment and disposal of wastewater. Waste can include human and animal waste, domestic wastewater, industrial output and agricultural runoff. Due to the numerous contributors of waste, sanitation requires a systemic approach that involves industry, individuals and communities.
Public health education in hygiene: Many early development programs provided access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure, but did not provide education in hygiene. As proper hand-washing can reduce diarrhea by 50%, respiratory infections by 25% and many other diseases considerably, hygiene education is now considered an important part of WASH programs.
Canadian Global Response is committed to working around the world to enhance individuals’ quality of living. The WASH General Fund exists to support new projects and existing partnerships in reducing risk of illnesses and death, as well as alleviating poverty, is by improving WASH measures.