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Christian Garabato
Life Unlimited 2:00-3:15
12/2/14

Water Availability

In this paper I will talk about the available water in East African countries such as
Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. For decades now this part of world has been known to
have massive amounts of problems when it comes to water. I will attempt to answer my
question of How is the available water in Africa being used and how does it affect the
health of the community using it? To answer these questions I will draw information
from a long-term study of domestic water in East Africa, based off of the book Drawers
of Water by Gilbert F. White. I will also use various articles that directly relate to Drawers
of water. Finally I will talk about various solutions that could potentially better the lives of
the people consuming the water.
In East Africa the availability of water is scarce to people in rural areas, but
prominent to others in urban areas. For example in 2000 the water supply coverage in
urban areas of Kenya was 87% and 31% of rural areas. In neighboring countries the
numbers are similar with Tanzania at 80% urban coverage, 42% rural coverage, and
Uganda at 72% urban coverage, and 46% rural coverage. Residents can access this
water either by having piped access in their house, a nearby pump (hand/diesel), or a
reservoir/pond. When residents get ahold of this water there are 4 main ways they use
the water such as: drinking&cooking, laundering&washing, bathing&personal hygiene,

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and flushing toilet (for piped water access residents only). The residents of these 3
countries are using all of the water available to its fullest.
Changes in total coverage are also affected by increasing urban population.
Almost 42 million people in the three countries do not have access to improved water
supply. (Tumwine 751) Tumwine suggests that supplied water is very prevalent, but
not very high quality. He makes a point in his article about how the misbelief is that they
dont have water at all, but really the problem is how good the water is. In John
Thompsons article Drawers of water: assessing domestic water in Africa which is a
kind of re-assessment/review of Gilbert Whites Drawers of water he states If a
household has only a small quantity of water to use, it is likely that all aspects of
hygiene from bathing and laundry to washing of hands, food and dishes will suffer.
(Thompson 2) The two authors support the same problem but approach it different
ways. Tumwine thinks that more sanitary facilities are necessary whereas Thompson
thinks that more water supplies are available. If more time was spent on implementing
more sources of water then the overall problem would be temporarily solved. The
problem with this is that after a while the source of water can be easily contaminated
without proper care. If more time was spent on sanitation facilities then the people who
have access to the water would be well off but then the overall coverage of water supply
would be stunted. The only immediate solution would be to focus on both aspects but
even that may not work. When wells are built and water sanitation facilities are
developed, they are improperly maintained to due to limited financial resources. (Lewis
1) When water sources are improperly maintained then diseases will spread. Its not
like they have a choice to deny the water because their lives are so reliant on it. When

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residents only have access to poor water then it can create multiple complications to the
lives of the people accessing the water.
As you can see, there is a definite uproar when it comes to the quality of water
being supplied. The lack of clean water and access to adequate sanitation is
widespread. The bi-product of dirty water is sickness/disease such as Diarrhea. Many
people in East Africa die from de hydration and malnutrition due to suffering from
diarrheal sickness. Tumwines study shows that 30 years ago the prevalence of
diarrhea in households in Kenya was 5% and now is 20%, Ugandas was 15% and now
is 20%, and Tanzanias was 10% but now is 8% for unknown reasons. The type of
waste disposal has an effect on the prevalence of diarrhea. The type of sanitation
facility also appears to be closely related with diarrhea morbidity. Among the piped
households, 14% of those with a pit latrine had at least one case of diarrhea in a week
compared with only 7.4% of the households with a flush toilet. (Tumwine 753) I think
this is a strong statistic because this was just surveyed in 1 week and the amount
households with pit latrines that had a case of diarrhea was double in comparison to
households with toilets. In rural areas pit latrines are used all the time. When the
human waste is improperly disposed of in these areas it will seep into the earth and get
to the same water source that is being pumped at the surface. Urban areas experience
a whole host of different challenges. In urban areas the population continues to
increase and as this happens the amount of human waste increases. The problem with
this is that wastewater management systems dont have enough time to develop, which
leads to pollution of natural bodies of water. The polluted water is unintentionally being
used in irrigated agriculture and is also messing the balance of aquatic life. Just by

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doing something every human does, they are unintentionally polluting their water and
contracting diseases.
The way people respond to present and improved supplies and the effect this
has in community health and welfare should be examined for the whole range of
theoretically possible improvements. Increased volume of use does not necessarily
bring proportionate gains in health. Neither does the construction of additional safe
supplies necessarily result in increased use by those people who most need them.
(Thompson 3) The way I interpret this quote is that just by improving the amount of
water available doesnt mean the well beings of people will be better. I think that this is
very true because it is just a quick fix solution that will end up not doing much for the
community health. The real problem with the water is that its not clean and it is very
easy to contract a sickness from it. The solution to this is to somehow find a way to
directly help the consumers.
Recent studies have demonstrated that many diarrheal diseases can be
prevented or reduced by improving water related hygiene behavior. (Tumwine 756) I
could not think of a more perfect way to introduce a solution. Yes increased
investments in water supply facilities and water sanitation facilities are needed but what
the people need with these improvements are hygiene programs. I believe that if the
people of these east African countries are informed about what type of water sources
are safe and how to properly dispose of waste then the percent of prevalence of
diseases will significantly decrease. I think that Tumwines and Thompsons
approaches are great, but along with those changes should be increased education on
water.

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Lewi, Lori. "Water In Crisis - Spotlight Africa: Rural and Urban Issues." The
Water Project. TheWaterProject, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Thompson, John, and Sandy Cairncross. "Drawers of water: assessing


domestic water use in Africa." Bulletin of the World Health
Organization 80.1 (2002): 61-62.

Tumwine, James K., et al. "Diarrhoea and effects of different water sources, sanitation
and hygiene behaviour in East Africa." Tropical Medicine & International Health 7.9
(2002): 750-756.