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Why was the Safe Water System Developed?

In 2000, just 10 years after the end of the Water and Sanitation Decade, the lack of access to safe water remains a problem for more than a billion people in the developing world. Annually, 2 to 3 million children less than 5 years old die of diarrheal diseases, a large proportion of which are acquired through exposure to contaminated water. In addition, after 39 years, the 7th pandemic of cholera continues unabated, claiming the lives of a high percentage of children and adults who acquire the disease. There are a number of reasons for the persistence of these problems in spite of the investment of billions of dollars in safe water by donor agencies and governments. Population shifts from rural to urban areas have stressed existing water and sanitary infrastructure and exceeded the capacity of most countries to keep up with demand. Large population dislocations caused by armed conflict and natural disasters have created enormous logistical problems in providing water and sanitation services, as have dispersed populations and poor transportation infrastructure in many rural areas. While larger scale projects, such as the construction of deep wells or piped water systems, remain an important objective of many development agencies, a shortage of time and resources will leave hundreds of millions of people without access to safe water into the foreseeable future. To help bridge the enormous gap in developing countries between populations served by existing water projects and those most in need, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization developed the Safe Water System, a simple, inexpensive, adaptable, and flexible intervention that employs technologies appropriate for the developing world.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch

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