8 January 2013

Gambia: Essential Benefits of Environmental Sanitation

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Hello readers, welcome to the another edition of the environment page of this paper. In this edition, we would like to share with our wider readership some of the most fundamental benefits as well as challenges surrounding the sanitation of our environment.

Environmental sanitation is very vital for any nation and in order to live a world free from diseases, we must task ourselves in a more collaborative and more sustained ways to frequently embark on general cleaning exercises in our houses, homes and our communities. In the Gambia we must admit that the monthly cleaning exercise has paid dividend. Health experts have indicated that the initiative has drastically reduced the burden of malarial diseases and other health related issues.

Moreover, environmental sanitations are activities aimed at improving or maintaining the standard of basic environmental condition affecting the well-being of peoples - These conditions may includethe following observations: (1) clean and safe water supply, (2) clean and safe ambient air, (3) efficient and safe animal, human, and industrial waste disposal, (4) protection of food from biological and chemical contaminants, and (5) adequate housing in clean and safe surroundings, which environmental experts referred to as environmental hygiene.

What is Environmental Sanitation?

According to experts, environmental sanitation is a set of actions geared towards improving the quality of the environment and reducing the amount of disease. By doing so, the hope is that living conditions will improve and health problems will decrease. The management of water, solid waste, and industrial waste, as well as the topic of pollution and noise control, all fall under the umbrella of environmental sanitation.

Importance of sanitation

The importance of sanitation cannot be over outlined, but it involves both household and environmental sanitations. Household sanitation also involves household food safety, and the maintenance of clean living conditions which do not promote the spread of disease. This includes general cleaning in our places where we keep food.

Other areas of specialty can include environmental sanitation, which involves limiting environmental contributors to the spread of disease, commercial food safety in facilities like restaurants and farms, and hospital safety. This can also include isolating wells to prevent them from being contaminated, securing water supplies from outside the community, and developing a safe network of pipes to deliver water to residents.

Sanitation departments must also concern themselves with garbage. Most urban areas have a garbage collection service, allowing citizens to set out their garbage on a specific day for teams of collectors who will gather it and deliver it to a processing facility.

Challenges of sanitations

Environmental sanitation comprises disposal and treatment of human excreta, solid waste and wastewater. It also comprises the control of disease vectors, and also the provision of washing facilities for personal and domestic hygiene. All these are aims at improving the quality of life of the individuals and contributing to social development.

It has been defined by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council as Interventions to reduce people's exposure to disease by providing a clean environment in which to live, with measures to break the cycle of disease. Environmental sanitation comprises both a change in behaviour and facilities to form a hygienic environment.

However, it is a truism that a significant number of people worldwide lack access to adequate water, sanitation, drainage, and solid waste disposal services. The latest statistics reveal that 1.1 billion people still do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Furthermore, research has shown that in many urban areas of developing countries, less than 50% of the municipal solid wastes are collected and only an insignificant fraction is disposed off appropriately. This not only increases the rate of diseases and mortality, but also slows down the economic progress of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. At the same time, the world's natural supply of freshwater is subject to increasing environmental and economic pressure.

According to United Nations Population Fund, 2007, urbanization in Africa has been phenomenal and puzzling with a rapid shift from 15% in 1950 to about 41% urban currently. It is estimated that by 2030, the continent may attain 54% urban. Not only are there more people living in cities but the cities themselves are becoming larger and more numerous.

Waste Management

Environmental experts have indicated that environmental conditions of a given area may be affected by waste management, the process used to dispose of garbage. How waste is disposed of varies based on living conditions and the accepted standard of living in a geographical area.

While some communities provide wastewater treatment and trash collection, others do not, which reduces the ability to control the well-being of the environment and its people. When waste is not removed and treated properly, pollution may lead to the spread of disease; when proper disposal and treatment methods are followed, disease and pollution can usually be reduced.

Solid Waste Management

Every day, people throw away a large amount of garbage, which is usually referred to as solid waste. In many countries, some form of solid waste management system has been put in place. Some common ways to dispose of the garbage include incarceration, which is the burning of waste, or landfills, which are places to store waste.

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