Dirty Water – the Major Cause of Children’s Illness and Death in Uganda
At a communal water spring in Kinawataka, a low-end squalid suburb of Kampala, children with all sorts of repulsively dirty containers are not only collecting water, but equally littering the water point with rubbish.
Visibly, the stagnant water down the collection point is such a distasteful sight. At a short distance away, some ladies are drawn in washing clothes, some of which contain child excreta, used water runs off to the water point, thus contaminating it.
Such gross hygiene abuse is not limited to the Kinawataka spring, it is a replica of what happens at most community springs or water sources such as taps, in other poorly planned and densely populated areas of Kampala and Uganda as a whole. Many areas in the country have no access to safe water and improved sanitation.
Consequently, lack of access to safe water and absence of sanitation integrity due to contamination of most water sources has over time spurred repercussions, both of an economic and health nature, especially water-related diseases such as diarrhoea.
400 die daily of diarrhoeal disease
According to the minister of state for primary health care, as cited by the New Vision of February 25, over 400 people die daily of various infections, including diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, ebola and marburg fever.
Additionally, a 2013 WaterAid report indicates that 70% of Ugandans have access to safe water and 30% to improved sanitation.
According to Rebecca Alowo, the WaterAid head of research, policy and campaigns, the above percentages shows that over 15 million Ugandans do not have access to clean water and sanitation.
Worrying though, the 2006 Uganda Demograpic and Health Survey observes that diarrhoeal diseases are more pronounced in children manifested through severe dehydration.
“Dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea is a major cause of illness and death among young children, although the condition can be treated with oral rehydration therapy. Exposure to diarrhoea causing agents is frequently related to the use of contaminated water and unhygienic practices in food preparation and disposal of excreta,” the survey reads in part.