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Clean Water & Sanitation

Libnesh's Story

In Ethiopia we are saving lives by teaching basic skills like handwashing

Fighting waterborne diseases

Clean water|Sanitation|Hygiene

At a time when over a billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion are without even basic sanitation facilities, roughly half the hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people suffering from water and sanitation-related diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, eye and skin infections, malaria and cholera.

Globally, one in five child deaths is due to diarrhoea and is closely linked to the challenge of malnutrition. A child with diarrhoea cannot take in the nutrients from the food they eat quickly enough and therefore they can very quickly become malnourished and very sick.

The lack of clean water and sanitation in the aftermath of disasters or conflict often means survivors cannot keep up good hygiene practices. This in turn increases their vulnerability to illness and can lead to outbreaks of disease.

International Medical Corps works to provide these most basic of human needs, supporting community efforts to guarantee clean water and safe sanitation services, no matter how challenging the conditions. We particularly focus on rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities at institutions such as schools, hospitals and health clinics where the risk of disease is greatest. Within a month of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, International Medical Corps had built more than 200 emergency latrines at key facilities around the country.

At every International Medical Corps project and health facility, we promote hygiene awareness and hand washing messages, for the simple reason that it saves lives. Simple hand-washing with soap and water can reduce rates of diarrhoeal disease by nearly half and the rate of respiratory disease by about one quarter. In the Philippines, following Typhoon Haiyan in 2014, we trained students in schools across the worst affected areas to become hygiene champions, spreading messages about hand washing and sanitation throughout their communities.

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