Lack of access to clean drinking water is behind many water-borne diseases in India. Diarrhoea contributed to an average of 15.5 percent of total deaths (130 crore) in the country from 1990-2016, according to the Health of the Nation Survey conducted by the Union Health Ministry in 2016.
Studies link higher prevalence of diarrhoea to unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities and low socioeconomic status of the affected people.
Diarrhoea, a disease caused by unhygienic sanitation practices and consumption of unsafe drinking water, is also a major threat for children. Each year the disease kills around 5,25,000 children under five across the globe, found a WHO study in 2017.
Water contamination is a major cause of diarrhoea and those with no access to safe drinking water become most vulnerable. The unhygienic living conditions in the cities and towns, specifically in urban slums, push a large section of population into health hazards. The serious water crisis in many cities has worsened the situation for deprived and marginalised sections of society. According to a recent World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) survey, at least 31 cities in India are facing water security risk.
States such as Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have reported diarrhoea outbreak in the last few months. All these cases of diarrhoea outbreaks had a common connection—contaminated drinking water. For instance, in Zirakpur municipality of Mohali district in Punjab where around 200 people fell ill due to diarrhoea in September this year, it was found by the health authorities that the affected people were consuming contaminated water for a long time.
The Union government under its ambitious Rs 3.6 crore Jal Jeevan Mission programme aims to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024. According to the data shared by the Jal Shakti Ministry, about 43 percent rural households have been provided with tap water connections till now. Only six states and Union Territories have 100 percent tap water supply for rural households.
India still has a long way to go in achieving safe drinking water access for all citizens across the country. According to a recent UNICEF report, around 5 crore people in 15 Indian cities have no access to safe and affordable drinking water.
Mission Paani, an initiative by News 18 and Harpic India, aims to provide clean drinking water, hygienic living conditions and sanitation facilities for all in the country.
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