Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Address Developing Countries' Water And Sanitation Needs

Date:
March 13, 2007
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
Worldwide, more than one billion people lack access to an improved water source, such as a rainwater collection or dug well, and two billion still need access to basic sanitation facilities, such as a latrine. Local communities in the developing world and professional researchers are working to address these issues. Researchers recently presented their work toward this end at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This Nigerian woman is gathering water from a local pond, which is used as a source of drinking water. But because of a Guinea worm larvae infestation, this water must be filtered to remove the water fleas that carry the parasitic larvae of the Guinea worm.
Credit: Photo by E. Staub, Courtesy of CDC and the Carter Center

Worldwide, more than one billion people lack access to an improved water source, such as a rainwater collection or dug well, and two billion still need access to basic sanitation facilities, such as a latrine.

By 2015, the international community hopes to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

This target for sustainable water and sanitation is just one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals adopted in September 2000 at the Millennium Summit. These goals serve as the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty.

Local communities in the developing world and professional researchers are working to meet this goal. Researchers recently presented their work toward this end at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

In the developed world, the moment a drop of water hits the ground, it goes into the water system until it becomes wastewater. Then it's treated and put it back into the system.

"We have a large-scale infrastructure in the United States to provide clean water," said Joseph Hughes, chair of the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Using our current approach will not provide the rapid fix the United Nations is looking for in developing countries. It would take decades."

Hughes outlined four steps in solving the developing world's water and sanitation problems. First, researchers must determine how big the problem is, then analyze the dynamics of water distribution, understand the complexity of the systems required and, finally, create new approaches to water supply and sanitation through research and development. This includes new methods of storing, treating and disinfecting water and developing sanitation systems that minimize pathogen release.

Urbanization, climate changes, water scarcity and economic development will affect where water will be available in the future and where concentrated amounts of water will be required to meet the needs of large populations, Hughes says. The United Nations projects that two-thirds of the world's population will live in areas that face water scarcity by 2025.

"Historically we've tried to go to groundwater sources, such as a well, to initiate improved water sources, but there's a very finite capacity in groundwater," Hughes noted. "We have to work much harder to make ocean or surface waters safe."

The water must be safe and reliable in quality and quantity.

"We need to go beyond providing better water," Hughes added. "We need to provide water that you and I would drink and consider safe. If a pregnant woman drank it, she wouldn't be worried about her health or the baby's health."

International research has been under way for some time to help improve the water supply and sanitation in developing countries. Georgia Tech Professor of Public Policy Susan Cozzens is leading new research, funded by the National Science Foundation, to determine whether these efforts have been effective.

In the United States, the only thing consumers need to know about their water supply is how to pay their bill and call a plumber if there's a leak, said Cozzens, who organized the AAAS session on water and sanitation in developing countries. But a family in a developing country with a latrine needs to know a tremendous amount -- how to build the latrine and how to maintain it.

"If a part breaks, what does that family do? Does the family stay in touch with the organization that came and provided the service or part originally? Is there someone who assumes the role of civil engineer in every town?" asked Cozzens, who is also director of the Georgia Tech Technology Policy and Assessment Center.

Cozzens also plans to investigate how communities in developing countries share their knowledge. She will conduct case studies in urban and rural locations in four countries-- Mozambique, South Africa, Costa Rica and Brazil -- to answer these questions.

Cozzens' interest lies in how different places are addressing a lack of safe water and sanitation, and whether engineering, health and social science research plays any role in that.

"There's a research front out there, but we still need to think innovatively about problems with water supply and sanitation in developing countries," Cozzens said. "Even though there's only a little bit of social science (research) literature on water supply and sanitation, about half of it is about developing countries."

Cozzens' goal is to provide insight to international and local water authorities in developing countries on how to set the right conditions for people to learn and solve the problems of unsafe water and sanitation. This insight will come from studying the limitations of research knowledge in relation to this problem and studying communities in the developing world that have solved the problem, she added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Researchers Address Developing Countries' Water And Sanitation Needs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070312151956.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2007, March 13). Researchers Address Developing Countries' Water And Sanitation Needs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070312151956.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Researchers Address Developing Countries' Water And Sanitation Needs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070312151956.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins