Fighting Waterborne Disease in The Gambia
Although clean water is essential to survival, the
African nation of The Gambia is plagued by several water-related issues,
including severe drought and desertification. At the same time, waterborne
diseases are prevalent in the country, and the CIA World Factbook states that Gambians
are at very high risk of developing major infectious diseases at some point
in their lives.
A Nation at Risk
Unsafe water supplies,
inadequate sanitation and improper hygiene cause millions of deaths around the
world each year, largely affecting children in developing nations like The
Gambia. Today, about 11 percent of Gambians lack access to improved water
sources, while 32 percent do not have access to improved sanitation facilities,
according to the CIA World Factbook.
One of the most
prevalent waterborne illnesses is diarrhea, which kills
about 1.34 million children under the age of 5 worldwide each year,
according to the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Diarrheal
diseases are a significant problem in The Gambia in particular. Last year, in a
random survey of caregivers with children, researchers found that 7.7 percent
said their children had diarrhea at that point, while 23.3 percent reported that
their children had diarrhea within the previous two weeks. Despite the
devastating effects diarrheal diseases can have on children, less than half of
caregivers said they brought their children to a health center.
On top of diarrheal
diseases, Gambians are at high risk of developing other waterborne illnesses,
including hepatitis A and typhoid fever.
Drops of Hope
Many of The Gambia's
deaths due to waterborne illnesses could be prevented if residents had access to
clean water supplies, improved sanitation facilities and better hygiene
techniques. To help Gambians meet these needs, ChildFund
Germany recently donated a water filter to The Gambia's Sintet Early
Childhood Development Center, which works with 153 children in the western
region of the country. Thanks to this gift, the children who visit the center
have access to safe, drinkable water.
ChildFund has made
similar water filter donations throughout The Gambia since 1984, ensuring that
79 percent of families in our program areas have access to drinkable water, as
well as adequate sanitary facilities.
To support us in our
goal of reducing the spread of waterborne illnesses in The Gambia, consider sponsoring
a child. For just $28 per month, you can help ensure a child in need has
access to food, health care and education, allowing him or her to emerge from
poverty and live a happy, productive life.