They have been identified as the key ingredients in the fight against poverty, so what exactly makes clean water, good sanitation and hygiene so important?
The lack of clean water, basic sanitation and good hygiene are at crisis point in poorer countries. It's a situation that traps people in a vicious cycle of poverty because it spreads disease and infection, costs lives, increases the infant mortality rate, deprives people of their dignity, forces women into strenuous labour (walking long distances carrying heavy vessels to collect water) and prevents children from going to school (due to illness and spending time collecting water).
It is a basic human right and necessary for consumption, personal hygiene, food production and sustaining the natural environment.
In 2009, 900 million people still live without access to safe water.
This includes all aspects of environmental cleanliness from safe excreta disposal to solid waste management.
In 2009, 2.5 billion people still lack adequate sanitation.
Good hygiene involves encouraging existing good practices, promoting new practices, and changing key behaviours through education to achieve the kinds of personal habits that are consistent with good health.
If we are to be successful in effecting sustained impacts on the lives of the poor, behaviour change in relation to water use and management, sanitation and hygiene is essential
Today, 1.8 million people still die every year from diarrhoeal / gastrointestinal diseases.
Over 150 countries – including Australia – have pledged to help end global poverty by signing the Millennium Declaration, thereby committing to improving the quality of life for people living in abject poverty. If we are to make any headway in the fight against poverty, water, sanitation and hygiene need to improve first and foremost.