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Access to Safe Water
Complete these exercises with information from the Data Tables.

Data Exercises with Answers

1. Make a copy of the blank Comparative Data Table and label the first column Countries, the second column Access to safe water, 1990-96, the third Population growth rate, 1980-98, and the fourth GNP per capita, 1998. Then use the text and the Basic Data Tables to fill in the chart according to the instructions below.

  1. Choose a low-income country in Sub-Saharan Africa and one in Asia (South and East) and the Pacific, and write their names in the first column.
  2. Choose a middle-income country in Europe and Central Asia, one in Middle East and North Africa, and one in South America, and add them to the first column.
  3. Choose a high-income country in North and Central America and the Caribbean, one in Europe and Central Asia, and one in Asia (South and East) and the Pacific, and add them to the first column.
  4. Label each country in your data table with an L, M, or H to show which income group it belongs to: low, middle, or high.
  5. Read the definitions of access to safe water, population growth rate, and GNP per capita. Go to the Basic Data Tables, and for each of your countries, find the percentage of population with access to safe water (1990–96), average annual population growth rate (1980–98), and GNP per capita (1998), and write this information in the appropriate columns of your data table. If data for one of the indicators are not available, select another country from the same income group and region.
  6. Rank the countries, with "1" equaling the highest access to safe water and "8" the lowest. Write the appropriate ranking number in parentheses after the data in column 2.
  7. Study your chart and answer the following questions:
    • In the countries with less than 50 percent access to safe water, are the other indicators high or low? [Answers will vary.]
    • In the countries with 50 to 69 percent access to safe water, are the other indicators higher or lower than in the below 50 percent access countries? [Answers will vary.]
    • In the countries with 70 or more percent access to safe water, are the other indicators higher or lower than in the other countries? [Answers will vary.]
  8. Does access to safe water follow the same trends as the other development indicators in your chart? [Answers will vary.]

2. Make a copy of the blank Comparative Data Table and label the first column Countries, the second column Access to safe water, 1990-96, and the third column Access to sanitation, 1990-96. Compare access to safe water and access to sanitation in six countries from six different regions of the world by following these steps:

  1. In the column at the left of the table, write the following countries and their regions: Brazil (South America); Ghana (Sub-Saharan Africa); Philippines (Asia, South and East, and the Pacific); Egypt (Middle East and North Africa); Canada (North and Central America and the Caribbean); Uzbekistan (Europe and Central Asia).
  2. Use the Environmental Data Tables to find the percentage of the population with access to safe water for each country and fill in column 2 in your table.
  3. Use the Environmental Data Tables to find the percentage of the population with access to sanitation for each country and fill in column 3 in your table.
  4. Compare the access to safe water and access to sanitation data for each country. Within each country, which indicator is higher, access to safe water or to sanitation? [In all of these countries more people have access to safe water than to sanitation.] Are there any countries that have a large difference between the two? [Yes. In Uzbekistan, almost 50 percent more people have access to safe water than to sanitation. In Egypt, more than 50 percent more people have access to safe water than to sanitation.] What are some possible reasons for this? [Possible answer: Sanitation, although crucial for public health, tends to be considered a less immediate need than safe water. Countries must prioritize as they develop the basic systems and structures that allow their economies to function, and when made to chose, they tend to place safe water ahead of sanitation.]

3. Take the Comparative Data Table you prepared for question 2 above, and add a fifth column labeled Access to sanitation, 1990-96.

  1. Use the Environmental Data Tables to find the percentage of population with access to sanitation for each of your countries and fill in column 5 in your table. Within each country, which indicator is higher, access to safe water or to sanitation? [Answers will vary.] Compare your results with those in question 2d. Do your countries follow similar trends? If not, what could be some possible reasons for the differences? [Answers will vary.]
  2. Judging from your data, which indicator tends to be more linked to country income group, access to safe water or access to sanitation? [Answers will vary.]
  3. Make a general statement about access to safe water and sanitation and development. [Answers will vary. Possible answers: Safe water and sanitation are both contributors to development and results of development. Safe water and sanitation are so important for children’s health that they can be factors in people’s willingness to have fewer children and thus can help decrease the population growth rate. They are important for economic growth because (at minimum) they help to keep workers healthy and productive. In addition, access to safe water and sanitation tends to increase as countries have more money to spend on piped water and waste collection and treatment systems.]
 
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