In other words, 4,300 children die of diahorrea every day – which is second only to pneumonia and more than deaths from measles, malaria and HIV combined. The trouble is that Jumbo Jets falling out of the skies and photo opportunities at the opening of new schools or healthcare centres have more PR clout than opening a safe toilet or, being the patron of an anti-open defecation campaign in some obscure village in Bangladesh or elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. Behavioural change is much tougher than buildings but it is the only route to sustainable transformations …  

Nine hundred million people do not have access to safe water and 2.5 billion or, 40% of global population, do not have access to a safe toilet. These facts have huge impacts upon general levels of health and, in turn, on productivity, education and progress out of the poverty trap. Fields cannot be worked if farmers are ill; womenfolk spend up to four hours a day collecting water from springs; and a number of water related illnesses can prevent children attending school either through illness or, the fact that money is tied up in expensive medicines. For example, families in Sub Saharan Africa can spend up to 20% of their meagre income on oral rehydration salts. Breakthroughs like cheaper soap or affordable sachet packaging can have a major impact on behaviours and outcomes.

The water agenda extends to other issues such as climate change and rapid urbanisation. For example, all over the rapidly developing world the menace of urban sprawl and factories tipping all sorts of toxic waste into rivers that pass through slums can trigger all types of sickness. This fact carries with it the potential to de-rail fragile progress on several MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) and destroy the capacity to provide a healthy workforce – which will make sustainable growth impossible. For example, an MDG target to halve the number of people without access to basic sanitation, is way off target and, according to WaterAid, may not be met for a century. 

The link between safe water, a skilled workforce and logistics performance is not tenuous and a more holistic approach is needed to transform life at the village level and on into the meta cities emerging all over the globe. We see Transformational Logistics drawing real inspiration from work done with water and, elsewhere on energy and future posts will look more closely at synergies with a Logistics angle. For example, we have highlighted already the impact of hygiene on the life of truck drivers.

This year has been declared the International Year of Sanitation by the UN. A key player in focussing attention on this vital issue is WaterAid – Founded in the UK in 1981, WaterAid works in 17 countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. It helps communities set up and manage their own water and sanitation systems, promotes hygiene education and campaigns for the adoption of a more integrated approach to development that recognises the importance of water and sanitation in reducing poverty and underpinning sustainable growth. The Financial Times , is leading this campaign and is featuring several articles on this key issue.

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