The Right to Clean Water Is Non-Negotiable

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  • Topic: Water supply, Water purification, Sanitation
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  • Published : March 22, 2013
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The Right to Clean Water is Non-Negotiable
Paula Weyand
American Sentinel University

“The International Council of Nurses (ICN) believes that the right to clean water is non-negotiable” (ICN, 2008). The ICN calls for all nurses and professional organizations to work with local government to lobby for safe water. Nurses should also work with national and international entities to ensure safe water supply and to protect the global water supply from intentional sabotage. Nurses can begin by lobbying for regulations that provide access to safe water for all people. The ICN’s position statement for universal access to clean water supports the Millennium Development Goal Seven (MDG7), the number of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation will be cut in half by the year 2015 (WHO, 2013). Clean water is necessary for optimum health. Statistics

The ICN Position Statement, universal access to clean water, is important for nurses because “dirty water and poor sanitation kill more children than AIDS, Malaria, and Measles combined” ("World water day 2013," n.d.). More than one billion people do not have access to clean water and more than two billion people do not have access to “improved sanitary facilities” (WHO, 2013). World Health Organization, WHO, also reports that more than two million people die every year, due to mostly preventable diarrhea conditions. Many of the two million that die every year due to lack of clean water, and lack of sanitary conditions, are children under the age of five (WHO, 2013). Drop in the bucket is a non-profit organization that builds wells and sanitation systems at schools in Africa; they report “more people have access to a cell phone than a toilet” ("Solutions," n.d.).

World Water Day
Many groups are working to meet the MDG 7: WHO, UNICEF, CARE USA, Drop in the bucket, and many more. World Water Day 2013 is March 22; this day is set aside to raise awareness that many of our global population do not have the basic sanitary needs that most of us in the United States take for granted. Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA, suggests that “we must work together to raise awareness” and that “on World Water Day, March 22, join us by standing in solidarity with people in poor communities” (CARE USA, n.d.). Meeting MDG7 will also help meet Millennium Development Goal Two, MDG2, achieving universal primary education, Goal Three, MDG3, promoting gender equality and empowering women and Goal Four, MDG4, reducing child mortality. Dirty Water Complications

Cleaning up the water is not as simple as it may initially sound. To have clean water there must also be basic sanitation. In many areas of the world, people get their drinking water from the same place that they wash in. WHO reports that over one billion people defecate in the open, causing environmental contamination (2013). The open defecating causes increased incidence of cholera, shigellosis, hepatitis, salmonellosis, and possible infestation of worms. Clean water and soap are also necessary for hand washing. Miller, and Gibson indicates that not having enough clean water can also contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, problems with incontinence, constipation and urinary tract infections (2012). Education is needed to teach the importance of good hygiene. In areas without clean water access, the burden to get clean water is on women and girls. The women must walk to the nearest clean water, sometimes spending hours walking every day to obtain the clean water. Women would have more time to earn an income if they were not spending time fetching water for their family. “Over 40 billion work hours are lost in Africa [due] to the need to fetch drinking water” ("Billions struggle without clean water or basic sanitation," 2005). CARE USA encourages women to lead their families and communities in teaching and educating the importance of essentials, like hand washing (n.d.). Many of...
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