The provision of adequate water and sanitation are vital to improve living conditions and to ensure health, educational opportunities, gender equality and social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Increased water and sanitation access and hygiene promotion create improvements in people’s health through better hygiene, improved water quality, and sanitation, but they also have an indirect positive effect on educational opportunities, gender equality, and the empowerment of women.
Safe water and sanitation also underpins economic growth and environmental sustainability. Income benefits (for both households and government) may result from a reduction in the costs of health treatment and gains in productivity. Poor water and sanitation result in compromised health status thereby affecting availability of labour therefore economic productivity of the nation. Good water and sanitation saves a million productive man-hours through reduced time spent on carrying for the sick. Productivity gains also stem from time saved from collecting water, the availability of water as an input to the productive sector, and a decline in water and sanitation related illnesses.
Poverty is greatly related to food insecurity within most parts of the world. Therefore in order to eradicate poverty there is need to improve food security, which is highly related to agricultural production. Great agricultural production is depended on adequate, reliable water systems. Water is a direct input to irrigation for expanded grain production, subsistence farming, nutritional gardens and livestock. Therefore, investment in water infrastructure is a catalyst for improved agricultural production for improved poverty levels. Small-scale technologies such as the drip kit have become important in the dry region in trying to combat poverty. These make the most of available water.
Improved water resources management, which maintains ecosystem integrity, serve to promote rural livelihoods that depend on the natural resources for sustenance, thereby reducing vulnerability to poverty.
b.Combating HIV/AIDS and Malaria
Malaria is associated with stagnant water and enabling environmental conditions for the breeding of the Anopheles mosquito. Therefore better water management strategies reduce mosquito habitats in turn reducing the incidences of malaria. Sound water management also reduces the risk of a wide range of water borne diseases.
Improved water supply results in improved food security thereby reduced poverty that in turn reduces susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, through reducing risky behaviour such as prostitution. Also for PLWHIV, health and nutrition reduces opportunistic infections.
The availability of descent sanitation facilities preserves the dignity of PLWHIV. Home based care for the terminally ill requires clean and safe solid waste disposal from patients. The availability of water reduces the burden of caring for home-based patients.
Poor water and sanitation facilities in schools result in low school attendance by girls. Uneducated girls are more at risk than boys to become marginalized. They are more vulnerable to exploitation. They are more likely than educated girls to contract HIV/AIDS, which spreads twice as quickly among uneducated girls than among girls that have even some schooling (UNICEF, 2005). Nearly a third of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are under the age of 25, and almost two thirds of these people are women. Therefore promoting water and sanitation programmes in schools reverses the above situation, combating the spread of HIV.
All training activities in Water and Sanitation programmes should in cooperate HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation. HBC givers should also be included in PHHE trainings. Poverty alleviation frameworks should also ensure that socio-economic and equity aspects play a role in water and sanitation and HIV/AIDS are addressed (IWSD, 2005).