Links Between Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) and Malnutrition
It is becoming clearer as time goes on that two of the worst problems plaguing impoverished communities around the world are interrelated: malnutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are often treated as separate issues, but increasing evidence is emerging suggesting that an unsanitary environment can in fact be one of the leading causes of malnutrition among children and adults alike.
The World Health Organisation estimates that up to ‘50% of malnutrition is associated with repeated diarrhoea or intestinal worm infections as a result of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene’. These figures are enormous, especially when one considers that such diseases are often preventable by the simple act of handwashing. As stated in a report by Action Against Hunger, handwashing with soap reduces the risk of contracting a diarrheic infection by around 47%, which could prevent the deaths of up to 1 million children a year.
These statistics highlight the importance of WASH programmes and initiatives across the globe, and show us that it is through by the simplest of actions that we can begin to make a truly significant change.
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Source: 2013: Pugh, Velleman ‘Undernutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene’;(n.p.) wateraid.org
 Source: 2005, rev. 2007: Departement Technique A.C.F. Interactions of: Malnutrition, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Infections; (p.4) http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/sites/default/files/publications/Malnutrition_-_WASH_-_infections_English.pdf Last accessed 17/12/15