The objective of this study was to diagnose the public distribution system of water and the quality of the drinking water in the so called ‘Quilombola Communities’ (descendants of African slaves who originally fled from their oppressors to the interior and today still live in isolated communities, officially recognized as such), in the municipality of São Luís Gonzaga, Maranhão, Brazil. Access to drinking water is a universal human right recognized by the General Assembly of the UN in 2010, according to which all people have the right to have physical and economical access to safe drinking water in adequate quantity and quality to supply for all basic human needs. In large parts of Brazil public access to drinking water is unequally distributed, especially in the Northern and Northeastern regions which suffer the most of insufficient drinking water supplies. Although in Brazil as a whole 82,5% of the population has access to water that has received some sort of treatment, only 53,8% of the northeastern state of Maranhão has access to such, mainly limiting this treatment to the large cities, meaning that the rural Quilombola communities receive little or no treatment of their water supplies. The method used for the categorization of the water distribution system, was the filling out of a standard form after a visual inspection, and for the analysis of the drinking water, the collection of samples from the wells used by the general population, subsequently microbiologically analyzed in a specialized laboratory, using the technique of chromogenic substrate; all performed by qualified government employees. The result showed that all 12 analyzed distribution systems consisted of subterranean water sources without any treatment of the distributed water, without preventative or corrective maintenance, and providing only intermittent supplies. As for the microbiological quality of the water; of the 35 analyzed samples 100% were positive for the presence of Total Coliforms and 40% were positive for the bacteria indicative of fecal contamination Escherichia coli. It was therefore concluded that the water supplied to this population does not conform to the minimal standard for water used for human consumption as established by Ordinance 2914/2011 of the Ministry of Health, putting the population at risk of acquiring water-born and -related diseases. This present study clearly reveals, that the mere presence of a public water distribution system is no guarantee at all that the actual need of the population to have access to good quality drinking water in adequate quantity is met; be it because of a lack of system maintenance or the total absence of treatment of the distributed water. This confirms the need for an urgent new public policy on a national level that establishes: 1) a viable development of complete and adequate sustainable distribution systems of water properly treated for human consumption in rural areas and 2) the obligation of the local government to establish municipal sanitation and water-distribution policies that guarantee the proper public administration of these systems in cooperation with the local community.
Being that it is an essential condition for life, water in inadequate conditions could be a social determinant which can, in turn cause specific illnesses, either by direct or indirect contact, with the ingestion of non-potable water, deriving from inadequate reservoirs for human consumption; contact with contaminated water and exposure to vectors related to the water. In vulnerable areas, the source of fresh water utilized by human beings suffer a continuous and increasing degradation process due to the disposal of sewage in natura or infected with animal feces and waste disposal in open air contaminating the water table; in addition, serving as breeding spots for mosquitoes in their immature stages, transmitters of human disease agents. Such a fact is the result of disorganized population growth and the lack of covering sewage disposal and adequate treatment of waste in the most vulnerable areas. The open dump located in Brasilia, has been used as an area for the indiscriminate disposal of waste in the soil since the sixties. It is Latin America’s biggest open dump and receives 9,000 tonnes of waste per day. Currently there are, working there and living nearby, almost 2.000 waste pickers of recyclable materials and their families who are in a situation of extreme social vulnerability and health. Based on data provided by Regulating Agency for Water, Energy, and Basic Sanitation of the Federal District – (ADASA) resulting from monitoring of groundwater campaigns in the landfill area, this study identifies and evaluates the importance of the actors involved in the surveillance, monitoring and preservation of water quality, discusses the contamination degree of groundwater, and analyzes the risk of vulnerability of the population directly affected. After monitoring the porous and fractured domain wells over three years, it can be concluded that there are evidences for groundwater contamination in the vicinity of Structural's controlled landfill. The fact is rather worrying, because the region where the landfill is located is a watershed, where people who use water from wells for drinking water live, a fact that can lead to several health problems. This statement is corroborated by the results obtained from data analysis, which indicated parameters such as electrical conductivity, chlorides, alkalinity, iron and lead in high values and some of them at odds with the Brazilian legislation for drinking water and groundwater quality for human consumption. These study's results are expected to highlight the importance of water quality used for consumption by waste pickers who work at the landfill and surrounding areas pointing out to knowledge of the risks on the current sanitation, health, and environmental problems in this site. In addition, it is intended to propose integrated and intersectoral actions for improving health of waste pickers and the public health as well as preserving and protecting the environment.
Human immunodeficiency virus infection / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and poor access to water are two primary global health issues. Poor access to water may significantly affect families infected with HIV and result in adverse social and health consequences. A qualitative study used semi-structured interviews to understand health and social outcomes of families after the implementation of water interventions in rural Kenya. One major sub-theme emerged during this research, which included the effects of water on an HIV-affected family. Prior to the water interventions, common adverse health effects from lack of nutrition, water, and poor hygiene were experienced. After receiving access to water, nutrition and hygiene were improved and additional time was gained and used to reinforce relationships and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. This study provides need-based evidence for access to safe drinking water in order to decrease adverse health outcomes and improve the quality of life for HIV-affected individuals.