In Ethiopia we are saving lives by teaching basic skills like handwashing
Providing adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is a key public health challenge in today’s world. Access to safe and sufficient water and improved sanitation as well as maintaining good hygiene is crucial to human health, well-being, dignity and development.
International Medical Corps works to provide these most basic human needs no matter how challenging the conditions. With hundreds of thousands of deaths each year caused by unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene practices, International Medical Corps prioritizes the prevention of WASH-related diseases as part of our comprehensive approach to health interventions. In doing this we focus on the following key areas:
- The provision and improvement of reliable, safe and clean water access
- The provision and improvement of sanitation
- The promotion of safe hygiene practices
International Medical Corps implements WASH projects across a range of settings including communities, refugee camps, schools and health facilities. We work throughout the disaster cycle, during the initial emergency relief, through the recovery phase and into development, responding to natural disasters, disease outbreaks such as cholera and Ebola, mass population movement as a result of conflict and other complex emergencies. Throughout all of our programs, we actively engage communities and relevant authorities in the development and implementation of sustainable WASH interventions.
- 783 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion are without even basic sanitation facilities.
- Around 315,000 children under-five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. That's almost 900 children per day, or one child every two minutes.
- Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.
Areas of Focus
International Medical Corps works to provide sufficient, safe, physically accessible and sustainable water for personal, domestic, livelihood and institutional uses in emergencies as well as non-emergency situations.
- 783 million people—roughly 1 in 10 globally—have no access to an improved water source.
- On average women spend 25% of their day collecting water for their families in developing nations.
- Improved water supply reduces diarrheal disease from 6 to 25%.
Widely recognised as the more cost-effective intervention in the water and sanitation sector, hygiene promotion is integrated into all of our WASH projects so communities can better protect themselves from the threat of infectious diseases.
Simple hand-washing with soap and water can reduce the diarrheal disease incidence rate by nearly half and the rate of respiratory disease by about one quarter. We promote hygiene awareness and hand-washing messages within communities, schools and health facilities.
Hand-washing is only practised by 19% of the global population.
Promotion of safe hygiene is the single most cost-effective means of preventing infectious disease at $5 per disability-adjusted life years.
Simple hand-washing with soap and water can reduce the diarrheal disease incidence rate by 47% and the rate of respiratory disease by 23%.
Despite the UN’s recognition of sanitation as a human right, the Millennium Development Goals, which ended in 2015, missed its target by 700 million people with 1 in 3 people living without adequate sanitation.
Of the 2.4 billion people that did not have access to improved sanitation in 2015, more than one billion are forced to defecate in the open (UNICEF and WHO 2016). Without adequate sanitation, communities are highly vulnerable to diarrhoea and other diseases and risk contaminating their drinking water. International Medical Corps provides sanitation facilities during emergencies to prevent the outbreak of diseases and works with communities to build sustainable, safe and adequate sanitation.
- 1 in 3 people lack access to adequate sanitation.
- Just one gram of faecal material can contain 10 million viruses, a million bacteria, a thousand parasite cysts, and a hundred parasite eggs.
- The economic cost of poor sanitation and hygiene amounts to more than 5% of the GDP in many developing countries.