How Do Developing Countries Get Clean Water?

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Access to clean water promotes health and life, and no one can live without it. Water is essential to life, and all people should have access to safe, clean, and affordable water, no matter where they are and no matter who they are. It’s a human right.

Yet, UNICEF reports that our world still has 2.2 billion people who lack access to safe drinking water. More than half of the global population does not have access to safe sanitation leading to poverty, disease, and death. Read on to learn how developing countries can get clean water!

Water Sources

Communities need water that is both accessible and clean. Sometimes, water is accessible in a developing country, but it isn’t safe to consume. Innovative minds have developed purification systems to make clean water from many sources, including the following sources which are mostly contaminated:

  • Harvested rainwater: For developing countries that get adequate rainfall, rainwater can be collected for purification.
  • Wastewater: Wastewater, also called “sewage,” is water that has been contaminated by domestic, industrial, or commercial use. It can contain human waste and chemicals.
  • Greywater: Any water other than toilet water originating from household use is considered greywater and can be recycled and purified to reuse safely.
  • Brackish water: Many people haven’t heard of the term “brackish water.” It is water that is not as salty as seawater but saltier than freshwater.
  • Surface water: Surface water is any body of water that is above the ground. It includes rivers, creeks, swamps, wetlands, lakes, and oceans. It’s more accessible than groundwater.
  • Groundwater: Groundwater is water that is found underground. Since it comes from precipitation like rain or snow, its availability is limited in many developing countries.

Next, we’ll discuss how we can take these contaminated water sources and make them clean and safe for use.

How Do Developing Countries Get Clean Water?

For developing countries to get clean water, the selected unclean water source needs to be made safe. There are several methods used to produce clean water.

Membrane Separation Technology

Membrane separation uses high pressure to push water through a porous barrier to separate pollutants from the water. It is versatile, which is a significant advantage because it can be adapted to each culture’s needs. It doesn’t require operators to acquire any chemicals to operate.

Membrane filtration can be adapted to filter out nearly any contaminants, including pathogens, bacteria, arsenic, and other harmful chemical pollutants, making the initial expense invaluable. Membrane filtration is the most effective means of preventing contaminated water-induced diarrhea, which takes the lives of more than 2,000 children every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Two highly effective types of membrane separation technology used by Healing Waters are ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. Once a membrane filtration system is set up, it requires little maintenance and has a long lifespan. The locals have complete ownership of the systems (with ample support), and jobs are provided for the community.

There are also other methods developing countries use to get clean water:


Requires a sodium hypochlorite solution to be added to the contaminated water. It is inexpensive and destroys most bacteria and viruses that cause diarrheal diseases. However, it is not as effective at removing protozoa and can cause health problems, including cancer, when used long-term.

Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS)

SODIS uses the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to improve the water quality and prevent diarrheal infections. It is easy and inexpensive, but only a limited amount of water can be treated at a time, and it doesn’t filter out chemical pollutants. It also requires clean plastic bottles.

Biosand Water Filtration (BSF)

BSF is specifically designed for intermittent or household use. It consists of a container filled with layers of sieved and washed sand and gravel. Freshwater is then poured over the top to filter out pathogens from drinking water.

It can increase water’s safety by removing more than 90% of bacteria and 100% of parasites. It’s not as effective against viruses and requires constant maintenance as the sand needs to be replaced regularly.

Ceramic Filtration (CF)

CF uses flowerpot-shaped filters that hold about 8-10 liters of water. They are inexpensive and easy to use. CF is also effective in reducing bacteria and protozoa levels in contaminated water, preventing diarrheal disease.

Negative aspects include not being as effective against viruses, having a slow flow rate, and the need to be replaced often due to breakage.

Why Clean Water?

Unclean water is a leading cause of child mortality worldwide, and 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, as reported by WHO/UNICEF in 2019. Clean water is critical for communities.

According to the United Nations (UN), there are at least five important reasons that safe and clean water is a vital necessity for communities to thrive physically, mentally, economically, socially, and spiritually.

Those reasons include:

Sustainable Development

Clean water allows for sustainable development by meeting people’s needs now without depleting resources for future generations.

Socioeconomic Development

Clean water provides socioeconomic development by keeping children in school, reducing conflict, and allowing community members to thrive through business ownership and management.

Energy and Food Production

Water is essential to almost all aspects of energy production. Clean water is also necessary for food production to keep the food supply from being irrigated with contaminated water.

Health and Survival

Clean water improves a community’s health and survival by providing a healthier food supply, offering adequate hydration for their bodies, and reducing diseases from unclean water.

According to the UN, 3 billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities at home, which is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Access to clean water allows for proper water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), and much more to promote health and survival.

Healthy Ecosystems

An ecosystem is a community or group of living organisms that live and interact with each other in a specific environment. Each part of the ecosystem is integral and necessary to promote the ecosystem’s health, productivity, and sustainability. Clean water is vital to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

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