Theses Master's

Water Crisis in Uganda, Nicaragua, Ghana, and India and the effects on women and children

Katrapati, Himabindu

Accessing clean and pure water is a crisis for women and families all over the world. Developing and finding resources for families to survive for drinking and sanitation has been detrimental to women’s health. In certain parts of the world, women and young children have to travel far and wait in long lines in order to retrieve the buckets of water. Without the proper resources to receive the water, this can lead to the fatality of women and their families. Additionally, consuming the dirty water can lead to illnesses, infections, and potentially death for women. According to the Water Organization, “today women around the world will spend a collective 200 million hours collecting water. This makes up an additional 266 million hours of time each day lost because they have no toilet at home.” Due to women spending so much of their time and resources to collect water, this can lead to limited time for work, school, or families to take care of. The importance of access to safe water is critical to the development of women’s health. Many pregnant women who gain access to dirty water and consume this water can lead to the harmful health of the baby and the mother. Women do not have the right nourishment to take care of their child due to lack of safe water. In addition to this, pregnant women who have to travel far to retrieve water are risking the heavy weight of water cylinders and can lead to a dangerous impact for the woman and baby. For some women, the water access to clean water is the responsibility of the woman for her household. Not being able to find clean access to water limits the family’s resources to survive.

According to the World Vision, “on average 72% of household water is collected by women and 14% by children.” Diseases such as diarrhea can be caused by the lack of proper clean water and leads to malnutrition and health issues. 2 Majority of women spend their time focusing on their child’s health and money on medicines to treat these illnesses. It is essential that women in developing countries are able to have easy, clean access to water to help reduce these disparities in women’s health. Some women are not able to have the ease of access to toilets and this causes women to hold onto their bodily fluids, which can lead to chronic health issues. For example, the country Eriteria in East Africa has the least access to clean water. 4 There are limited resources for household sanitation and sources of water are destroyed with human and animal waste. Additionally, deforestation has caused the water pollution to severely destroy water sources. Moreover another example of this concern is that Somalia lacks 60% of basic water services. Lack of clean water in Somalia has lead to high rate of water-related diseases. This mostly affects children and women in Somalia. Due to environmental issues such as droughts and floods, have caused people to move to areas where there are not basic needs for sustainability.

In regards to bioethical concerns, the lack of access to clean water raises the issues of environmental ethics. The ethical challenges that arise due to access of water are the instrumental value of the world. As humans, we use water for our daily needs and if there is contamination or water loss we must address those concerns. The principle of sustainability also requires attention. The rate of human induced water loss and contamination not exceed the ability of the water source to cleanse and replenish itself. The moral principle of sustainability discusses that knowing the support and value of water is an unsustainable loss and contamination for a water source violates the intrinsic value of water. Additionally, human rights are violated when there is a water crisis and people are not able to receive that access to clean water. Access to clean water is a moral right for individuals and the well being of a community. Principle of beneficence and the principle of common good apply to this situation. It is the moral responsibility as humans that there should be equal responsibility to support access to clean water and enhance natural resources for our community. Women are responsible in certain cultures to bear the responsibility of clean water. This raises the concern of women not being able to go to school or learning opportunities to educate themselves. This raises the bioethical concern of justice. This principle focuses on determining the equal distribution of resources and treatments for the development of women’s health. The development of women’s health for access to clean water violates the principle of justice. Women are passed down this responsibility for finding water that they miss out on other opportunities to develop themselves compared to men.

This paper will discuss a sample of four developing countries: Uganda, Nicaragua, Ghana, and India and their issues with lack of access to clean water. In addition to this, an analysis on how policy recommendations have developed over time for women and families to have the access to clean water will be discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Ladha, Sameer
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
April 28, 2021