But hey, when you progress to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), you now have a whole lot more factors to consider in addition to getting safe drinking water. (Admittedly, WASH is commonly associated with developing communities but we in developed countries can certainly learn a few things too.)
- Do you wash your hands before eating and after visiting the toilet?
- Do you in fact use or have a toilet?
- Is the way you store your water free from contamination?
- Is your garbage and other solid waste properly disposed?
- Is your food safely prepared, handled and served?
- Do you know that children excreta is just as hazardous as adults'?
In any case, before we jump in to install a low-tech rainwater harvesting system or a high-tech reverse osmosis water production unit, perform a needs analysis first, whether in a disaster or development scenario. Work on those needs at the top of the list first and not what we "feel" or "want" to do.
My training session provided an interesting study (can't remember the source to cite though) to help bring things into perspective.
Based on various cases, it ranked the effectiveness of the following 4 methods to decrease morbidity rates of diarrhea. Most effective is ranked first... down to the least effective at the bottom. Guess what is at the top and what is at the bottom???
|Figure: Do not underestimate the power of the humble washing of our hands|
- Hand washing ~30+%
- Latrine usage ~30+%
- Sufficient water quantity ~15+%
- Water quality ~15+%
Updated by author 23/3/17:
Dr Yoke of WISE (WASH in Southeast Asia) has kindly recommended the following articles on the above topic.
- Esrey, S.A. et al. Effects of improved water supply and sanitation on ascariasis, diarrhoea, dracunculiasis, hookworm infection, schistosomiasis and trachoma. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 69 (5): 609-621 (1991)
- Fewtrell, L. et al. Water, sanitation and hygience interventions to reduce diarrhoea in less developed countries: a systematic review and metal-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis 2005; 5: 42–52