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Small changes have big impacts

According to the World Health Organization
(WHO), environwomen.jpgmental factors such as poor water quality and sanitation are a significant cause of death, disease and disability in the world, especially in developing countries. Today, 844 million people have difficulty accessing clean water and 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. This is particularly concerning for children under five for whom water and sanitation related diseases are among the leading causes of death.

Over the course of more than three decades, CPAR has constructed water points and latrines that have helped tens of thousands of people access clean water and sanitation facilities. We believe, however, that it is the knowledge we provide our communities that becomes their greatest asset.

Simply providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in the absence of hygienic behavior does not, on its own, lead to better health. Many households collect and store water before use. So, even if the original source of the water is safe, the water is frequently contaminated by unhygienic conditions and practices in the home. CPAR is committed to helping communities keep water clean and safe through hygiene promotion campaigns on the safe treatment and storage of drinking water.

In addition to safe water treatment, every CPAR health or water project contains a handwashing education component. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), this simple and cost effective practice can reduce the number of diarrhea bouts by almost 50 per cent. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under fi ve, making simple handwashing a lifesaving behavior.

Hand-washing with soap at critical times – after defecating and before eating or preparing food – has also been shown to reduce the incidence of other diseases, including pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin and eye infections, cholera and dysentery. Taking all these diseases into account handwashing with soap could save 300,000 lives every year. This basic practice, that is so obvious and ingrained in Canada and the developed world is still not widely accepted or taught in the countries and communities CPAR supports. This is grand scale work that makes its way from a small scale start. It is the kind of work CPAR is committed to continuing and increasing in partnership with you and every Canadian that knows small changes have big impacts.