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Global Water Sanitation and Health: What this Course is about. Mark D. Sobsey University of North Carolina Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering [email protected] Kofi Annan United Nations Secretary-General.

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Global water sanitation and health what this course is about

Global Water Sanitation and Health: What this Course is about

Mark D. Sobsey

University of North Carolina

Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

[email protected]

Kofi annan united nations secretary general
Kofi Annan aboutUnited Nations Secretary-General

“We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or any of the other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking-water, sanitation and basic health care.”

Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Selected Major Risk Factors



Unsafe sex



Water, sanitation and hygiene (5.5%)

5% -

Percent of total burden (within region)

Indoor air (3.7 %)

Physical inactivity

Zinc deficiency



Occupational risks

1% -


Unsafe sex

Ambient air

Occupational injuries


Ambient air

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Climate change


Developed countries

Developing countries(high mortality)

More recent estimate even higher!

Global burden of poor water sanitation and hygiene wsh
Global Burden of Poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WSH) Factors

  • 1.1 billion people (~17% of the population) lack access to improved water

    • tap water in house/yard from public distribution systems,

    • protected wells & springs

    • public stand posts

    • rain water collection

  • 2.6 billion (42% of population) lack access to basic sanitation

    • sewerage, on-site septic waste treatment system, latrine

Global burden of poor water sanitation and hygiene wsh1
Global Burden of Poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WSH) Factors

  • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases (including cholera)

  • 90% are children under 5

  • mostly in developing countries.

  • 80% of the population without access to drinking-water are rural dwellers, but future populations will be mainly urban

  • Peri-urban slums are among the most underserved and unsanitary places on earth!

The Older Conventional View: Factors

Lack of WSH = Disease and Poverty

  • Inadequate water supply

  • Unsafe water resources

  • Inequitable access

  • Time, financial cost

  • Disease burden

  • Health care costs


The Newer Optimistic View! Factors

WSH = An Engine for Development and Productivity

  • Improved water supply

  • Safe water resources

  • Universal access

  • Time, financial savings

  • Averted disease costs

  • Healthy populations


Millennium Development Goals Factors

  • Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education

  • Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Goal 4 Reduce child mortality

  • Goal 5 Improve maternal health

  • Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability

    • Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies … reverse loss of environmental resources.

    • Target 10: Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

  • Target 11: improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

  • Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development

What a lot of this course will be about the f s of wsh
What a lot of this course will be about: FactorsThe “F”s of WSH

  • Feces

  • Fingers

  • Flies

  • Fields/Food

  • Fluids

  • Fomites

Water Treatment

A lot of what else this course is about
A Lot of What Else this Course is About Factors

  • Air pollution

  • Solid waste management

  • Vectors & vector-borne diseases

  • Disasters and emergencies

  • Climate change health effects

Human sanitation fundamental but often lacking
Human Sanitation: FactorsFundamental but Often Lacking

  • Excreta management and disposal

  • Hygiene behaviors

    • Handwashing

  • Safe water

Sanitation our biggest failure
Sanitation: Our Biggest Failure Factors

  • Our sanitation systems don’t work well and result in pathogen release

  • Whether community or on-site, they all fail or have serious deficiencies

  • Sanitation is one of the biggest technological gaps we have globally

  • Pathogens go everywhere as a result

Roman latrine

VIP latrine


Inferior/Absent Community Wastewater Treatment Systems Factors


No Rx.

Rx. Often Absent!

Untreated/poorly treated wastewater is discharged to land or natural waters

Water disease and health
Water, Disease and Health Factors

  • Water-borne

    • Exposure mainly by ingestion of contaminated water

    • Primarily enteric diseases transmitted by the fecal-oral route

  • Water-washed

    • exposure is reduced by water use for personal and domestic hygiene: washing (clothes, floors, other household chores), bathing & other personal hygiene

  • Water contact and water vector-borne

    • Exposure by skin contact with infested water

      • Ex: schistosomiasis

    • Exposure to water habitat "insect vector" diseases

The microbial world types and sizes of microbes
The Microbial World: Types and Sizes of Microbes Factors


Amebic dysentery





Typhoid fever


Hepatitis A&E




~ 1 µM

Helminth (Worm)

(eggs shed in feces)


(Ascaris lumbricoides)

Excreta from humans and animals Factors




Solid Waste


Oceans and


Rivers and











Waterborne Pathogens Come Primarily from Feces by Various Routes of Exposure

E. coli from Spinach Lettuce & Tomatoes!

Adapted from Charles P. Gerba et al. 1975

Issues in water and health
Issues in Water and Health Factors

  • Quality

  • Quantity

  • Access

  • Habitat and Ecology

  • Resources and Management

  • Economics

  • Behavior and Beliefs

  • Enabling Environment and Policies

Analyzing the role of wsh in reducing disease
Analyzing the Role of WSH in Reducing Disease Factors

Recent meta-analysis shows major impacts by

  • Hygiene

  • Sanitation

  • Water quality

  • Water supply

Comparison of impacts of wsh interventions fewtrell et al 2005 vs previous studies
Comparison of Impacts of WSH Interventions: Fewtrell et al. 2005 vs. Previous Studies

Good Studies

All Studies

  • Water quality interventions (POU water Rx) was more effective than previously thought

  • Multiple interventions (combined WSH) were not more effective than single interventions (?)

Piped and non piped water supplies
Piped and Non-Piped Water Supplies 2005 vs. Previous Studies

  • Most people lack piped water

  • They collect water or have it delivered

  • Most wells in developing countries deliver NO or UNSAFE water!

  • Sources are often contaminated

  • Piped water is often contaminated

  • Classified as “improved”, but still unsafe

Piped and non piped water supplies1
Piped and Non-Piped Water Supplies 2005 vs. Previous Studies

  • Collected, stored water often becomes contaminated in the home

  • Water is often not treated, but used directly

  • Boiling is widely practiced

  • Disadvantages:

    • Cost

    • Inconvenience

    • no residual protection (gets recontaminated in use!)

    • environmental degradation (deforestation)

    • air pollution (health effects)

Barriers against microbial contamination and waterborne disease
Barriers against Microbial Contamination and Waterborne Disease

  • Collect from a safe source

  • Store it with contamination safeguards:

  • Treat water to reduce microbial contamination

    • Physical treatments:

      • Heat, sunlight (heat + UV), UV lamp radiation & filtration

    • Chemical treatments (disinfection):

      • chlorine

    • Combined physical-chemical treatments:

      • coagulation-flocculation-chlorination (“conventional Rx”)

Behavioral and educational components of wsh interventions
Behavioral and Educational Components of WSH Interventions Disease

Increase awareness of the link between the 5Fs and disease and the benefits of appropriate hygiene behaviors

Behavior change techniques:

  • social marketing

  • community mobilization

  • motivational interviewing

  • communication

  • education

World Health Organization Health-Risk Based Framework Disease

  • Risk-based framework

  • Source-to-consumer management approach

  • Establishes health based-targets for performance

    • Can set acceptable level of risk appropriate to setting and population

  • Establish and carry out Management Plans

  • Independent surveillance

  • Integrated. Consistent across, compatible with and applicable to all WSH measures

These principles apply to all types of WSH measures!

Wsh addressing the global burden of disease by working towards meeting the mdgs still plenty to do
WSH, Addressing the Global Burden of Disease by Working towards Meeting the MDGs: Still Plenty to Do

  • Research

  • Implementation/Dissemination

  • Communication

  • Advocacy

  • Finance

  • Policies

  • Diplomacy and Politics

Celebrating water for life the international decade for action 2005 to 2015

Celebrating Water for Life towards Meeting the MDGs: The International Decade for Action2005 to 2015

2008: International Year of Sanitation