The drinking water it is an indispensable resource for human life. More than 90% of the body’s functions are possible thanks to the presence of water and approximately 80% of the human body is made up of water.
The absence of drinking fountains in a community not only generates problems of civility and discomfort, but also provides the ideal setting for the appearance of gastrointestinal diseases and malnutrition .
Fighting malnutrition through drinking water
The project Generation Nutrition of the United Nations Organization recommends three lines of action to combat malnutrition. These consist of:
- Implement environmental sanitation policies in marginalized communities.
- Undertake campaigns that promote hygiene in slums.
- Invest in projects to improve the water quality in human settlements with very limited resources.
Of the three points mentioned above, it is the third that presents the greatest difficulties, because guaranteeing the water safety It not only depends on the human and material resources available, but it is also related to the accessibility of the geographical area to which it is intended to benefit.
Nutritional issues related to water quality
The consumption of unhealthy water is one of the main causes of gastrointestinal diseases. This frequently causes damage to the digestive system that makes it difficult to assimilate nutrients. The Director of Emergency Programs of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , Manuel Fontaine, states that it is impossible to guarantee adequate nutrition in people who do not have access to quality water consumption .
The most common ailments found in those communities that do not have access to drinking water sources are briefly explained below:
- Chronic poisoning . This phenomenon occurs in populations with scarce resources that are established in places where the soils are sandy and rich in minerals. The level of presence of these substances is sometimes so great that, on occasions, the water tables are contaminated and transmit a high content of heavy metals to the available water reservoirs. The result is that the population consumes water with a high content of heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, which are highly harmful to health.
- Environmental enteropathy . This disease usually causes greater damage in the child population and consists of the loss of the intestinal capacity to absorb fluids and nutrients. The cause of this disease is due to prolonged consumption of contaminated water.
- Parasitosis . This is usually an easy condition to control. However, it is very difficult to detect and, when it is detectable, the patient is usually in a state of severe parasite infestation. While this is not fatal, it is dangerous and leads to malnutrition. Like environmental enteropathy, parasitosis is the product of ingesting contaminated water.
Action plans to ensure safe water
The UNICEF , as well as the UNESCO , they state that having access to a quality water resource is a fundamental human right . Therefore, in their social improvement programs, these organizations implement actions aimed at improving the management of this resource.
Among the actions undertaken, the following can be highlighted:
- Improvements in water catchment systems.
- Technological research aimed at optimizing water purification processes.
- Implementation of innovative techniques in the storage of water resources.
- Design and construction of piping systems to distribute the liquid promptly and expeditiously.
Fight malnutrition through water quality management
Despite the great efforts made by international organizations to improve the management of the quality of water resources, there are still many challenges and needs that must be covered to improve the quality of life of less fortunate people.
In terms of water distribution and administration, some of the challenges that reality poses to humankind are the following:
- Improve bureaucratic processes in each country to obtain the necessary resources in the construction of quality hydraulic systems.
- Use all relevant technological advances to efficiently transport the vital liquid to those who need it.
- Promote and implement policies that allow the implementation of water systems for human consumption.
- Implement health and nutrition programs in relation to water consumption.
- Undertake education and awareness campaigns in the population for the responsible management of water resources.
Apparently, much remains to be done to achieve access to safe water for all communities. It is necessary for the whole of society to become aware of the importance of proper administration of this resource and its implications for health. This is everyone’s job.