World Water Day: PWW’s Work Impacts Climate

World Water Day 2020 is Sunday, March 22. This year’s theme is: Water and Climate Change – and how the two are inextricably linked.

Climate change and increasingly chronic disasters can cause irreversible alterations and damage to natural resources and ecosystems. These events can also decrease biodiversity and intensify existing environmental degradation. Water and sanitation are specifically impacted by weather and climate events (including variability, seasonality and extreme events), resulting in a reduction in drinking water availability and quality, as well as having a negative impact on the performance of sanitation and hygiene services.

Water and sanitation, along with food and shelter, are the most basic human necessities. At times of crisis, children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to illness and death from diseases that are often caused or spread by lack of sanitation, inadequate safe water, and/or poor hygiene. Without access to basic water and sanitation services, and without the practice of good hygiene, the danger of diarrhea, cholera, and other deadly disease outbreaks is high.

At Pure Water for the World, we understand that water and climate change have a profound and direct link.

  • When families do not have sustainable access to water, they must utilize a variety of practices that often result in a reduction in natural resources, an increase in carbon emissions, and a direct and detrimental impact on the climate.
  • When families do not have the necessary tools for safe sanitation, they are forced to practice open defecation, which frequently occurs near valuable water sources.
  • When families have not been taught healthy hygiene practices, widespread contamination occurs throughout homes, schools and communities, resulting in environmental destruction and the spread of life-threatening diseases.

PWW’s comprehensive programs deliver sustainable safe WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) solutions to reach the most vulnerable populations. PWW Training and Consulting Services teams provide a wide-range of WASH training courses for groups, businesses and other organizations. In particular, we have extensive experience training teachers, teacher networks, and parents throughout Central America.

PWW implementation programs serve people living in rural, dispersed communities across Central America and Haiti. These robust solutions address the critical link between water and climate change, supporting the health and future of children, families, communities and our planet.

As part of PWW’s direct implementation program, families in communities served must participate in four critical hygiene education programs. These trainings include:

  • Environmental Hygiene (including water source protection)
  • Home Hygiene
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management

The Environmental Hygiene training helps community members understand the critical importance of keeping their local environment clean by properly disposing of garbage and protecting their community and water sources from human and animal waste. It also teaches the importance of sustainable crop planting and fertilization practices that help reduce erosion and harmful contamination.

When possible, prior to working in a home, PWW team members request that the family digs two waste pits on their property…one for compostable materials and one for trash. This supports the ability to put the safe environmental and home hygiene practices into place.

Personal Hygiene, including how to properly and effectively wash hands, is fundamental to protecting personal health and significantly reducing the spread of diseases, which has a direct impact on the community and the environment.

As part of the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) training, community members learn how to make reusable menstrual pads out of materials most families already have in their homes. Girls and women learn how to properly manage their cycles to support their own health as well as the health of the environment around them. The MHM program not only supports safe and healthy girls, women, and communities, but also enables girls to stay in school, allowing for greater exposure to education about the global environment, the impact of climate change, and how to play a part in prevention.

When families are empowered with biosand water filters and no longer have to boil water for drinking, fewer trees are needed for fuel, resulting in a reduction in deforestation as well as a reduction in harmful carbon emissions caused by burning wood.

Families with proper latrines are able to put an end to the extremely unsafe sanitation practices employed with open defecation. PWW teaches families how to build long-lasting latrines and how to properly maintain them.

Latrines and handwashing stations at schools protect children and the environment from safety and sanitary issues that come from practicing open defecation and/or utilizing poorly constructed latrines. PWW’s WASH stations at schools have gender-specific latrines, allowing privacy and supporting girls with safely managing their menstrual cycles while at school. The handwashing stations allow children to reduce the spread of harmful pathogens.

Through the provision of WASH tools and the education of safe and healthy practices, communities are able to reduce environmental impact and experience greater resiliency when unexpected events and natural disasters occur.

Protecting the health of children, families, communities and our planet is central to PWW’s mission. By providing comprehensive implementation and training programs, PWW teams are committed to working closely with community members and other organizations and groups, empowering them with the essential tools and knowledge to create a brighter, healthier future for all.

In celebration of World Water Day 2020, PWW teams are planning the following activities:

In Haiti, the PWW team will host five days of workshops focused on the analysis of water quality with representatives of water kiosks in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The workshops will provide education about the importance of drinking water quality in relation to the human body and encourage water kiosk owners to test water before selling it to consumers.

In Honduras, 18-20 teachers, representing the municipalities of Maraita, Danli and Trojes, will participate in a WASH training workshop. The workshop is the result of an initiative between Pure Water for the World and the Secretary of Education of Honduras, through the Department of Communication, Environment and Health, to integrate WASH and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into classroom curriculum. As a result, teachers will be able to implement good practices for WASH and MHM in 27 schools across these municipalities. (UPDATE: This training has been postponed due to the COVID-19 precautions.)