Becky Wiegers and Sarah Mulcock

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve desperately needed water? We all can recall a time, maybe on a hot summer day, when we say complained about how thirsty we were, but this is a typical American exaggeration. I don’t think most people have gone without water for such a long period of time that it began to physically affect them. While water is easily available here in the United States, getting clean water is a major issue for developing countries.

In countries such as Africa where getting purified water is difficult the people there are forced to settle for unclean and contaminated water. It is predicted that if no actions are taken to address this problem then by 2020 as many as 135 million people will die from water-related diseases. To put that in a visual perspective, that is the same as eliminating Russia! Peter H. Gleick, a research specialist with water-borne diseases, wrote a research report where he stated, “The failure to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services to all people is perhaps the greatest development failure of the 20th century” (Gleick). Based on what this specialist is saying and the previous statistic there are many consequences that millions are forced to suffer due to their situations. But what is it exactly about dirty water that makes it so dangerous and deadly?

There are many diseases that go along with contaminated water. The main causes of these diseases are pathogenic bacteria or viruses found in the water, which are then consumed. These are under the category known as water-borne diseases. Some of the diseases that dirty drinking water can cause include cholera, typhoid, amoebic, and bacillary dysentery. According to the World Health Organization these diseases are the most common. They had over four million cases of these types of diseases recently. The next category of diseases is water-based diseases. The causes for these sets of diseases are parasites or other living organisms which contaminate the water. Some of the diseases include dracunculiasis and schistosomiasis. These diseases aren’t only passed on by drinking the contaminated water; they also can be caught after simply being in contact with the water. The symptoms of these diseases are fever, nausea, and vomiting. All of these diseases have unique symptoms, yet there are solutions that can be used to prevent all of them.