The Effect of a Lack of Clean Water in Africa

I receive an amazing amount of press releases every week, people wanting me to write about their product, service or cause. 9/10 I turn them down and delete most generic press releases after the first few lines. This week however I was approached by a kind hearted gent wanting to raise awareness of the plight of many who suffer terribly due to a lack of clean water in Africa.

As many of my readers will know I am a staunch supporter of UNICEF and the work that they do therefore this email struck a chord with me as it a subject I know an unfortunate amount about. Having worked with UNICEF I have a good idea of how devastating the lives of some people may be who simply can’t access clean drinking water. The rest of this post features information on this from PLAN UK and a link to a sponsorship page for the charity.

I’m not necessarily asking you to empty your pockets, I haven’t donated financially as I have to be very strict with myself and stick to our nominated charities. What I would ask you to do is read the rest of the post and if you can share with your contents online, on Facebook, Twitter etc as there may be a few people out there who could spare a few pounds which would make all of the different to many lives.

Thanks x


A lack of clean drinking water is the devastating cause behind a lot of the poverty and disease in African nations. There are more than 1.5 million children under the age of 5 around the world who die every year because they don’t have access to safe water and sanitation and this problem is significant in Africa.

A lack of clean water is linked to poor health, hunger and a lack of education. Without clean water, villagers cannot grow food or stay healthy. Due to the debilitating diseases that drinking dirty water can cause, people in these communities are not healthy enough to stay in school or work for a living. Often the only source of water is miles away from the village, which means that the able bodied members of the community will have to walk for hours every day just to transport the water.

The time spent collecting this water could be better used in working or education, but unfortunately most of the day is spent simply taking care of basic needs. The United Nations has made a recent estimate that people in Sub Saharan Africa spend approximately 40 billion hours per year walking back and forth collecting water. This is equivalent to a full year of work by the entire population of France. Just imagine how much more quickly a community could develop if people didn’t have to spend so many hours just collecting water and could use those hours earning a living or learning a trade.

Diseases Caused by Unclean Water

There are a number of debilitating diseases which are caused by the pathogenic micro-organisms that are transmitted in contaminated water. According to the World Health Organisation, water-borne diseases cause the death of 1.8 million people every year.

One of the most serious problems associated with a lack of clean drinking water is diarrhoea. This will cause the victim to become seriously dehydrated, lose electrolytes and it can even be fatal. Providing adequate sanitation facilities where people can wash their hands with soap and water can cut the risk of diarrhoea by one third.

Another serious disease associated with a lack of clean water is cholera. This is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and it can lead to serious dehydration and death. Also, there is an increased risk of Trachoma in these communities. This is an eye infection that is spread via poor hygiene caused by inadequate water supplies. Typhoid fever can also be caused by ingesting contaminated water. This is a bacterial infection that will cause nausea and headaches.

These are just a few of the serious diseases that can be caused by a lack of access to clean water. By simply supplying a community with a fresh and clean water source, many of these diseases can be greatly reduced.

To find out more about how Plan UK provides water to developing communities and how you can help by sponsoring a child, visit their child sponsorship page here