Clean water is essential for life, but one in eight of the world's population does not have access to it. This, and lack of safe sanitation, result in over two million people dying from water-related diseases every year. The lack of clean water close to people's homes also affects people's time, livelihoods and quality of life. In developing countries, poor water and sanitation affects the lives of women and children the most. It impacts on women's time, health, education and family relations. Without safe water and sanitation, life for children in developing countries can be very hard. They are often at risk from disease and are unable to attend school.
To gain the full benefits of safe water and sanitation, communities also need to know about the links between diseases and unsafe hygiene practices. Hygiene education focuses on issues such as personal hygiene - the simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by a third. Washing hands with soap can help prevent many of the water-related diseases that cause 4,000 child deaths a day in the developing world.
The PHASE (Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education) programme, developed a jointly between AMREF and GSK, is a simple-handwashing programme which teaches children to reduce the spread of infection. The programme has significantly reduced diarrhoes-related diseases and improved children’s overall health.