Increasing Access to Safe Water While Reducing Emissions
Authored by Alexandra Cosman, Evidence Action
Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water program reduces deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in East and Southern Africa by providing communal chlorine dispensers.
Users treat their water by turning a valve on the dispenser to release a small amount of chlorine and then collect water from the source–such as a well or pump–as usual. Chlorine reduces the need to burn firewood for boiling water to make it safe to drink. A small amount of chlorine added to drinking water—as people in industrialized countries well know—has substantial environmental and health benefits.
Evidence Action is currently providing access to chlorine dispensers for almost 2 million people. We will reach 4 million by the end of 2014 and 25 million people by the end of 2018.
Scaling up to 25 million people will have a significant impact in the countries where we work where deforestation is perilously high. For example, Kenya lost 5% of its forests and other wooded land between 1990 and 2005; Uganda lost two-thirds of its forests over the last 20 years; and Malawi has the highest deforestation rate in all of Southern Africa.
The dispensers program is important not only for local and regional communities, but also for the global community that is affected by climate change, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels. We estimate that each dispenser generates 50-70 carbon credits (tons of carbon dioxide avoided) and averts an average of 38 episodes of diarrhea per year. Diarrhea is one of the major childhood killers in developing countries.
Dispensers for Safe Water is supported by local and national governments in the countries where we operate. In Malawi, for instance, government-supported Health Service Assistants (who are volunteer local health workers) encourage use of the dispensers in their communities.
To realize these economies of scale, we need support from people like you–member businesses and consumers. You can get involved by making a donation securely on the Evidence Action website.
At a cost of less than $0.50 per person per year, your donation will go a long way and have a big impact on vulnerable people in Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi.