A safe and steady drinking water supply is something many of us take for granted. However, around 2.2 billion people worldwide – nearly one-third of the global population – don’t have access to safe drinking water. Astonishingly, this figure has doubled since the start of the 21st century.
Having a reliable supply of drinking water benefits both individuals and communities as well as having wider economic and social benefits. Here is an overview of the key advantages.
The most obvious benefit of a safe and clean drinking water supply is to health, wellbeing and development. Firstly, clean drinking water and good sanitation prevents the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea. These still kill a substantial number of people worldwide each year. Over 700 children still die every day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. The effects on child development are also severe, with around 50% of child malnutrition due to unsafe water.
Beyond preventing extreme disease and illness, drinking water supplies are also essential to human development. Our bodies need a regular intake of water to function. It regulates body temperature and is a key source of many essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. These perform functions such as tissue and joint protection, blood oxygen circulation and bone growth.
Drinking water access also positively impacts the economy. There are the obvious knock-on effects from the health improvements. Having a healthier population leads to more productivity. It’s estimated that around $260 billion is lost annually because of inadequate water supplies and poor sanitation.
In addition to this, there are other distinct economic benefits such as:
- The economic benefits of time saved not having to collect water from sources such as wells. Around 200 million hours of time is spent worldwide every day collecting water.
- Greater economic opportunities. Developing a fully functioning drinking water supply creates jobs for local residents and also offers opportunities for businesses and social enterprises to invest in the local economy.
- Growth of tourism and the rise in property value that inevitably follow water management improvements, as more people are attracted to visit or move to the area.
There are distinct social advantages that a clean drinking water supply can bring. The improvements to health and the economy will naturally create their own social benefits but, apart from these, water improvements can be seen to play a role in reducing gender inequalities. As already mentioned, millions of hours are wasted daily collecting and distributing water in the absence of a pumped supply. This work falls overwhelmingly on women and girls in developing countries, impacting on time they can spend earning an income or attending school.
Time spent collecting water means less time available for social activities such as spending time with family and friends, or participating in leisure pursuits. Because of the gendered nature of water collection in many countries, this makes it harder for females to integrate into the social side of life.
A further social benefit can be derived if creating a drinking water supply can be done in a social way, for example by linking it to water use as has happened in many parts of Suriname. This can promote a sense of environmentalism and community-mindedness that brings local people together for the good of all.
Water Experts can help you become more water sustainable and equipped to deal with water challenges of the future. Our services include water audits, water treatment and reuse studies and water management plans. BOSAQ provides the SolarAQ product line which uses the latest technology to provide a sustainable and recycled supply of premium drinking water.