Global issues:
Water shortage and Child Mortality

The world today is more interconnected than is has ever been before. We live in a globalized world, and we talk about a world community. Countries are dependent on each other, mostly through trade, but also through alliances, like NATO. Foreign policies are becoming more and more important, the relationships with the rest of the world is crucial. In our globalized world there are many pressing issues on mankind. Issues that are global, because they affect us all. Issues like war, terrorism, health and the environment are important to all of us, and are not easily solved. Usually one issue affects another issue, thus solving one can often help solving another. In this article I shall focus on two global issues, child mortality and water shortage. I wish to look at the importance of them both, and the connection between the two. Can solving one improve the other

Water is the most important thing for life on earth. Within a few days without it you would die. Humans are utterly dependent on water, and water shortage is therefore always a pressing issue. With population growth, growth within the economy and urbanisation, the human population is putting more pressure on the worlds water reserves. Water shortage is a grave problem for a great part of the world population, and will not cease to be a problem in the nearest future. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change(IPCC) have portended that the amount of people under stress from water shortage will double within 2050[1]. 33 per cent of the world population are considered to be under water stress already, and the percentage is likely to increase to 60 per cent within the previously mentioned year. The numbers prove how extremely pressing the issue of water shortage is. It could, in fact, affect more than half of the worlds population.

The current situation of water shortage has been named the ???water crisis??? by the United Nations[2]. It seems a suitable name when 884 million people lack good access to drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack water for sanitation and disposal usage[3][4]. The Food and Agriculture Organization disagree. They say that the ???water crisis??? is an inappropriate name, because the situation has in fact improved, with 2 billion having gained access to water, from a safe source, since 1990[5]. Bjorn Lomborg, the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, also disagrees. Seeing as the proportion of people with access to safe water has increased from 30 per cent in 1970 to 84 per cent in 2004, he might have a point. [6] However, what the situation of water shortage should be called, or how exactly how severe it is, can always be discussed. The fact of the matter is that water shortage is a pressing global issue, because 884 million people still does not have access to safe drinking water. Furthermore, the lack of water for sanitation purposes have great consequences, as well.

A famous Swedish geographical scientist was once asked if he thought the world had become a better place[7]. His answer was yes, and his argument was that child mortality had gone down. He thought this was important because the most horrible thing some one can experience is losing a child. This can of course be discussed, but losing a child is always tragic. Although child mortality might have gone down, the number of children dying is still a large one. Every day 29,000 children under the age of five dies, approximately 21 per minute[8]. Child mortality is therefore still a highly pressing global issue, an issue that will not disappear by itself. There are many causes for child mortality, but 70 per cent of them are diarrhoea, pneumonia, pre-term delivery, neonatal infection, malaria and lack of oxygen at birth[9]. However, are any of these closely linked to water shortage Could improvement in the issue of water shortage have a direct influence on child mortality

The World Health Organization have estimated that 28 per cent of children that dies under the age of five, dies because of poor sanitation and unsafe water[10]. Especially when it comes to diarrhoea and infections, is water a matter of great importance. Child mortality could be reduced with 28 per cent if water had been available to those in need of it. Poor sanitation is largely dependent on access to water, which is one of the reasons why water shortage is such a serious issue. It goes the other way as well, safe water resources relies on sanitation. Drinking water pollution is also a cause of many child deaths[11].

The areas with the highest per cent of child mortality are also the poorest areas. Developed countries like Norway and Sweden have low child mortality rates, mainly because of good health systems and general wealth. However, the two countries did not always have such high standards in health. Norway and Sweden were once poor countries, with much higher child mortality rates than today. Their development can be studied to foresee the development in poorer countries. Swedish scientists from The Centre of Health Equity Studies have done exactly that. In their report ??? Equitable Child Health Interventions: The Impact of Improved Water and Sanitation on Inequalities in Child Mortality in Stockholm, 1878 to 1925??? they discovered that improvement in water and sanitation caused lower child mortality[12].

Water shortage and child mortality are closely connected, as I have attempted to show in this article. Because diseases that lead to child mortality are worsened by lack of water, improving the water situation would lead to lower child mortality. Another element is sanitation. Water is significant when it comes to sanitation, since bad sanitation leads to higher child mortality. Both issues are highly important, and affects a great number of people; an all to great number at that. Improving the worlds water situation would lead to lower child mortality rates, and should therefore be a top priority. If more people could get access to safe water and sanitation, the effects would be profound. How this is to be done, however, is another, and more difficult, matter, than concluding that it should be done.

Footnotes Nations statement on water crisis
2. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (2008), Progress in Drinking-water and Sanitation: special focus on sanitation. (MDG Assessment Report 2008) p. 25
Updated Numbers: WHO-UNICEF JMP Report 2008
United Nations statement on water crisis
Bjorn Lomborg (2001), The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge University Press), ISBN 0521010683, p. 22
Skavlan ??“ Norwegian TV-programme

Other sources
International Focus ??“ Heian m.m, Gyldendal, 2007

[ 1 ].
[ 2 ]. United Nations statement on water crisis
[ 3 ]. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (2008), Progress in Drinking-water and Sanitation: special focus on sanitation. (MDG Assessment Report 2008) p. 25
[ 4 ]. Updated Numbers: WHO-UNICEF JMP Report 2008
[ 5 ]. United Nations statement on water crisis
[ 6 ]. Bjorn Lomborg (2001), The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge University Press), ISBN 0521010683, p. 22
[ 7 ]. Skavlan
[ 8 ].
[ 9 ].
[ 10 ].
[ 11 ].
[ 12 ].