Water Also Kills!


Around the world, millions of the poor hope to have a clean glass of water. This seems impossible as the problem of water sanitation increases especially in poor countries.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.1 billion people globally do not have access to improved water supply sources, whereas 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility. About 2 million people die every year due to diarrheal diseases; most of them are children aged less than 5 years old.

The most affected are the populations in developing countries, living in extreme conditions of poverty, normally peri-urban dwellers or rural inhabitants. People who drink this kind of water or people who do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility, suffer from various diseases, such as Diarrhea, Arsenicosis, Schistosomiasis, Cholera, Intestinal worms, Typhoid and Trachoma.

These diseases occur due to the lack of attention given to the sector, lack of financial resources, lack of sustainability of water supply and sanitation services, poor hygiene behaviors, and inadequate sanitation in public places including hospitals, health centers and schools.

Providing access to sufficient quantities of safe water, the provision of facilities for a sanitary disposal of excreta, and introducing hygiene behaviors are of capital importance to reduce the burden of disease caused by these risk factors.


Diarrhea is having frequent, loose, watery stool. You may get diarrhea after being in contact with someone else who has it, or you may get it from food poisoning—after eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

Almost everyone has diarrhea at some point in his/her life, including a holiday abroad, called traveler’s diarrhea.


Drinking water rich in arsenic over a long period leads to arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis. Many waters contain some arsenic, and excessive concentrations are known to naturally occur in some areas. The health effects are generally delayed and the most effective preventive measure is supply of drinking water low in arsenic concentration.


Cholera is an acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), which results in a painless, watery diarrhea in humans. Some affected individuals have copious amounts of diarrhea and develop dehydration so severe that can lead to death.

Most people who get the disease ingest the organisms through food or water sources contaminated with V. cholerae. Symptoms of cholera can begin as soon as a few hours or as long as five days after infection, the symptoms are often mild. However, sometimes they are very serious.

About one in twenty people infected have severe watery diarrhea accompanied by vomiting, which can quickly lead to dehydration. Although many infected people may have minimal or no symptoms, they still can spread the infection.


Typhoid fever is an acute illness associated with fever caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. The bacteria are deposited in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area.

Typhoid fever is contracted by drinking or eating the bacteria in contaminated food or water. People with acute illness can contaminate the surrounding water supply through stool, which contains a high concentration of the bacteria. Contamination of the water supply can, in turn, taint the food supply. The bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage.

Governments should provide more attention to populations living in areas suffering from water sanitation problems and its borne diseases. The human right to a clean glass of water and leading a healthy life are fundamental to the realization of all human rights.




*Published in SCIplanet, Winter 2015 Issue "Bare Necessities".

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