Water, Environment and Health

The issue of the availability and supply of water to low-income populaces has been a major challenge in Africa and such countries as India and Mexico. This is primarily due to the state of affairs in these nations and the placement and funding for the supply and maintenance of water to the low and middle income areas. Even so, there have been numerous efforts by both governmental institutions and non-governmental agencies in these regions that have sought to balance and improve the provision of water and the services that are related to it. The most prevalent step and objective of these institutions is to make certain that there are quality, reliable and affordable water services to be provided to low-income residents. This, however, has been faced by challenges that have eventually affected the environment and the health of water consumers.

The problem with this, however, is that all of these objectives are still elusive. This is brought about by many factors and challenges that are found in the low and middle income countries, especially in Africa and India. Some of these challenges include the rapid increase in population. This is set against the already huge backlog of persons waiting to gain access to waters services. The current bulk water production is also more and more inadequate. Another common challenge in these settings is that of infrastructure that is getting old and poor, decline in service, water losses and investment in the extension of networks is extremely limited. Even more is the fact that most of the users of water services and sources such as lakes and rivers do not comply willingly with the aspects of revenue collection. This results in low levels of such revenue that there are not enough funds to maintain and continue supplying water to the people.

Due to being low and middle income nations and cities, most of these areas experience serious difficulty in the access of water and its related services. The main reason for this is that the upfront costs of connection are high. This leaves low-income consumers relying on expensive alternatives that are not regulated despite their living in areas that are water-networked. Some of the means through which they get water include the use of water tankers and vendors who, at the end of the day, are more expensive compared to accessing the networked water conduits.

From the issues illustrated above, the use, availability and supply of water in the low and middle income countries presents even further problems and concerns. Among these issues is the primary aim of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger in the regions that lack adequate water supply. This is the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG). Additionally, a crucial factor to such use, availability and supply of water in a bid to increase and enhance water services also seeks to accomplish the seventh MDG. This entails the ensuring of environmental sustainability. This then calls for the active participation of the political sector, including the government, in the matters that relate to water. The most appropriate way to approach this is through the examination of the distribution and contest of power and resources in various settings. These should be looked into to understand what elements drive or limit change in the provision of water services as relates to the environment.

In this case, the central water source to be used is the Lake Victoria of East Africa. The lake sustains approximately 30 million individuals. In the spirit of conserving and sustaining the environment, among other purposes, the region has come up with the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP). The main aim of this project is to look into issues such as water pollution, overfishing, run-off that is excessive, and the degradation of land. In a bid to fulfill its role, the project came up with several legal and institutional reforms on water resource conservation, limiting water pollution and limiting fish harvest sizes. It even instituted a pilot tax for the recovery of environmental management costs. These reforms were, however, variably enforced mainly due to lack of government power. Even so, other political factors came into play. These included vested interests that contrasted the new reforms.  Ironically, more public funds were pumped into the fisheries export industry rather than implement a wide-scale safeguard of the environment. Some industries even dump some of their waste products into rivers and other waterways that eventually find themselves in the lake. The government should understand that there is need to protect the environment as a crucial factor in the provision of adequate water services. This requires a public financial planning strategy. It is upon such realization that the government will increase its accountability and support other important related areas.

Another problem with the institution of such reforms aimed at the protection of the environment for an ultimate provision of adequate water services is the resistance that is received from the communities themselves. This is either from the people themselves or community organizations. Most resistance is felt from fishing communities that are at the forefront of the fishing business. Some of the people even use poison for fishing. This contaminates the lake and other water sources. The irony of this is that these are the same persons that need access to clean water. With overfishing and pollution of the water, these people and communities do themselves great injustice. They even affect the provision of adequate water services to other people in these regions, most of whom are low and middle income earners. The government should also appreciate that it has a crucial role to play in the provision of these services to the people. To do this, it must resort to the enforcement of all the set reforms for the protection of the environment.

With water pollution, there is an accompanied effect on the health of the people. This includes both people around the water sources and those away from them. At the end of the day, the sanitation of the water that emanates from these water sources becomes affected through pollutants of different types and potencies. Persistent organic pollutants and other chemicals such as pesticides and nitrates may cause serious harm to the health of the consumers of such contaminated water. For instance, pesticides and lead may result in damage to the nervous system while causing cancers. Arsenic may cause vascular diseases and damage to the liver. Fluorides result in the discoloration of the teeth of consumers and even cause damage to the backbone. Uncontrolled fish harvests may result in an unstable ecosystem which may then lead to the new means of protection and survival tactics in marine animals and plants which. Some of these mutations and tactics may prove harmful to human health through such substances as poisons.

Water and sanitation have been major issues in low and middle income countries, especially in Africa, India and Mexico. The main reason for this is the existing conditions, placement and funding of water services in these areas. Even so, government and non-governmental bodies have stepped in to ensure quality, reliable and affordable water services are available to every person, especially low-income residents. This, however, suffers setbacks in the form of rapid populace increases, poor infrastructure, and limited investments in water network extensions. There is also lack of compliance by water source users to taxes and conservation reforms. Also, connection costs are high. The protection of water sources also faces challenges such as lack of government force and financial planning, organizations with vested interests, resistance from fishing communities, and the dumping of pollutants into rivers and lakes. In the end, these issues affect the health of water consumers. Water pollution leads to various illnesses such as cancers, damaged nervous systems and, liver and bone diseases.