The problem is so persistent and is a public health issue allover the world hence the UN millennium development goal for water and sanitation which is “to halve by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation” (UNICEF, 2011).
Water contamination may result in diseases such as; diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, malaria, trachoma, hookworms, hepatitis A among others. It is therefore important to look into the scope of the problem, the various measures put by government to ensure access to safe drinking water, the funding towards such initiatives and the effectiveness of such policies in ensuring the millennium development goal is achieved. Scope of the Problem The UN environmental programme (UNEP) shows that 2million tons of sewerage, industrial and agricultural waste are poured everyday into the water and that one child under 5 years dies every 20 seconds from water-related diseases (UN News Centre, 2011).
According to Pruss-Ustun et al (2004); Elimelech (2006), unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene accounts for 1.73 million deaths a year worldwide mainly through infectious diarrhoea. The problem is more prevalent in developing countries accounting for 85-90 % of diseases compared to 60% in developed countries and mostly affects children. Elimelech (2006 p. 26) notes that 1.1 billion people which is fifth of the world’s population lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion lack proper sanitation and that most of the deaths(90%) are children under
the age of 5 in developing countries. This defeats the UN millennium goal of reducing child mortality rate by two thirds by 2015. The diseases are acquired through ingestion of unsafe water, contact with contaminated water, poor hygiene, poor domestic and agricultural practices as well as poorly managed water systems (EPA, 2011). A lot of chemicals from industries and agriculture find their way into water bodies or seep into the soil and contaminate underground water making it unsafe for drinking. However, some contaminants like arsenic are natural as they are from natural rocks through natural processes and the government needs to ensure that people do not consume such chemicals in large quantities as they can result to cancer and kidney failure among other diseases. Lack of access to water leads to poor personal hygiene which results in diseases. For example, people do not wash hands properly if they do not have adequate water and this can result in diseases. Poor hygiene practices such as human waste disposal also leads to contamination of water. The human faeces find their way into the water thus contaminating it. Unsafe water cannot thus be considered in isolation as it goes hand in hand with poor sanitation and poor hygiene practices. According to Anderson and Bohan (2001), water is contaminated either at the source which could be a lake, river or a well or during distribution especially through contaminated pipes. Unhygienic water storage tanks at home also leads to water contamination making it unsafe for human use. Broken pipes could lead to leakage of chemicals into the water during distribution leading to contamination. Corrosive pipes are a source of lead deposits in the water making it unsafe for drinking. Lead arises from corrosion of lead pipes, copper pipes with solder as a result of water staying for long in pipes. Consumption of lead can cause damage to the brain, kidney, and red blood cells (EPA, 2011). Poor irrigation