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close this bookFood, Water and Family Health: A Manual for Community Educators (UNDP - WHO, 1994, 108 p.)
close this folderUnit 1: Healthy water and better sanitation
View the documentThe problems we have with water
View the documentWays to keep our water supply safe
View the documentGolden rules for safe water
View the documentImproving our environment ourselves
View the documentThe water committee
View the documentWays to make drinking water safer
View the documentLatrines

Ways to keep our water supply safe

We often complain about living in an unlucky community. Diarrhoea is common. We feel weak. Flies and mosquitos bother us. Hearing our complaints my neighbour said, “Our luck will change when we protect our water and, as clever women, use it wisely.”

Someone laughed saying, “Clean water! What does clean water have to do with children having diarrhoea? I know people with tubewells whose children still get sick.”

Another woman agreed. “I visited my sister last month. Her children are strong and healthy. They haven’t been sick with diarrhoea for years. The people in her village do seem better off. They have wells close to their homes, and clean water.”

My neighbour answered, “No matter where you get your water, it is necessary to keep it clean.” She goes to classes and has learnt to read.


She read to us from a book about making water safe:

“All living things need water; ourselves, our children, the animals we raise, and the plants we grow. Good use of water keeps our families healthy, provides nourishing food, saves us money and earns cash.

Faeces and urine get into rivers, streams, ponds and swamps. Dirty water is dangerous. Each year many people in our country die from diseases spread by water.

To stay healthy it is necessary to drink water from safe and protected sources. Even though the water is flowing and looks clear it can contain very small harmful germs too tiny to see without a microscope. These germs cause diarrhoea, jaundice, dysentery, cholera and other diseases.”

This is what some of the germs look like under a microscope,” she said pointing to a picture with a lot of little circles and dots.

“It is harder to imagine what germs look like than to understand what we can do to get rid of them.”

My neighbour finished reading with the words,

“Wise women and their families look after water in the ground, at the well or standpipe, on the way to the house, and in the home.”

“Both children and water have accidents if we don’t protect them,” she told us. “We rush around keeping our little ones from serious mischief. Water too needs care or germs will make it unsafe to drink.”

“So that’s why my sister always stores her water in clean covered containers!” said one young woman.


Design a puzzle or game maze showing the complicated path to safe water.

Your game should show that the path to safe water requires organization, material, knowledge and change in attitudes.

Act out the different ways men, women and children use and treat water in your community.


How are knowledge, attitudes and materials important in creating a healthy environment?

How can your group or class help improve the health of your community?

What role does the government or voluntary agency have to play?

Who should pay for clean water and sanitation?