Water and Sanitation
Through exploratory centres students are given the opportunity to examine the water and sanitation
issues faced by four communities. They will learn about the wide range of effects a contaminated
water supply has on other parts of the ecosystem and will be challenged to propose solutions.
Time Required: 1 hour
• Read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational
texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning
• Recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate
understanding of how they help communicate meaning
Science and Technology (Understanding Life Systems: Habitats and Communities)
• Analyse the effects of human activities
• Name and locate the various physical regions, provinces, and territories of Canada and
identify the chief natural resources of each
• Use a variety of resources and tools to determine the influence of physical factors on the
economies and cultures of Ontario and the other provinces and territories
First, ask students why water is important. Encourage discussion.
Second, write the list of water facts (below) on a piece of chart paper, the chalkboard, create a
transparency with the Water Facts Overheads below, or project the Water Facts Overheads with a
As you read the facts, have students split into groups to visually illustrate the statistics. For example:
1.1 billion people is roughly one sixth of the world population, so tell one sixth of the class to stand on
one side of the classroom to represent those who do not have access to clean water. This will not work
for all of the statistics. You can be creative though!
As you go through also stop to check for understanding and encourage students’ comments. Ask what
the significant of these statistics are. Having a 1 L bottle of water may also help students understand
the amount of water that you are discussing.
Discuss with the students where most people without access to clean water and sanitation live by
looking at the maps provided. Be sure to point out though, that there are many people in Canada who
also do not have access to clean water. (NOTE: “improved water sources” do not necessarily indicate
clean water sources).
Students are exposed to the water and sanitation concerns of specific communities in Malawi,
Tanzania, and Ontario.
• Only 2.5 % of the world’s water is fresh water, the rest is salt water in the oceans
and is unfit for us to drink
• 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water
• 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation facilities
• The UN says that a person needs 20-50 L of water a day for drinking, cooking,
bathing, and leisure
• On average, one Canadian will uses 300L per day and on average flushes 50L down
• 70 % of water is used to produce food; 22 % in industry; and 8 % in homes
• It takes 15,000 L of water to produce 1 Kg of grain-fed beef, while it takes 1,000 L of
water to produce 1Kg of wheat
• Many countries whose people have trouble accessing safe water actually have
enough water. Many people just do not have access to it.
Maps, Activity Sheets and more can be found in the Global Kidz Booklet which you can download:
Information packages for one centre are provided to each group as well as an activity sheet that asks
students to list the name of the community, the issue, the consequences (how the problem affects food
supply, health, livestock) and potential solutions. It is also suggested that students use Google Earth or
hard-copy maps to find their communities. (Note: Karatu will have to be searched rather than
Once each group has finished their centre they will present what they have learned to the class. Groups
can select one speaker to explain what they have learned. Alternatively, students can present to smaller
groups of students made up of a member from each centre.
As a class, discuss solutions for each centre. Students must propose one solution for each challenge
explored and document these in the space allotted at the bottom of the handout.
Students should also be encouraged to discuss the similarities of the problems between Africa and
A. You may choose to watch the Ryan’s Well or Water Detectives video at this time. There is also time
allotted for the video towards the end of curriculum but if time permits it also fits nicely with this
B. Take the class to a local river to discuss the pollution in that river and how it would contaminate
your water if it were not treated. Also talk about how pollution harms the whole ecosystem. A class
could also measure the quality of the river with a water test kit.
C. You may also have students design a small rainwater harvesting system out of used soda bottles and
various other materials. Once made, these can be put outside to collect rainwater (preferably in spring
or fall) to demonstrate how to collect water. NOTE: do not let students drink the water that has been
collected since they are not professionally monitored or trained. Students can use the systems to collect
water to water the trees that they have planted though.
Worldwide, 1.1 billion people (one sixth of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water
and 2.6 billion to adequate sanitation. This leaves people without such access susceptible to waterborne
diseases such as cholera, hookworm, and schistosomiasis. Many countries in Africa have among the
lowest percentage access to clean water and sanitation: 58 percent and 36 percent respectively. Only
the Pacific as a region has lower percentage access to improved sources of drinking water (Source).
The reason for this is not necessarily an absence of water but more an absence of infrastructure to
access that water (See UNwater, Pg 2).
There is a difference between physical and economic scarcity. The International Water Management
Institute Map on the overhead shows which countries are which. Economic scarcity generally means
that there is enough water present, but a lack of the right infrastructure prevents access to it.
Although most of those living with unsafe drinking water are located in the global South, drinking
water is a Canadian issue too. Unsafe water occurs in emergency situations (that is, for a limited time)
as well as in more sustained situations. For example, in 2008 the Canadian Medical Association
Journal reported that 1,766 communities were under boil-water advisories. Of these, 93 were First
Nations communities (Source). Each year 9 people die because of contaminated water in Canada.
Access to clean drinking water is a necessity for any community, as is water conservation. In Canada,
most people and industries use far more water than they need. Canada is second only to the
USA in water consumption per capita; using 1,600 cubic metres of water per person per day. This is 65
percent above the OECD average (Source). Yet people rarely think about the fact that there is a finite
amount of water available. Only 2.5 percent of the earth’s water supply is fresh water.
CPAR partners with vulnerable communities to find local solutions to the problem of water supply in
rural East Africa. CPAR and its partner communities build rainwater harvesting tanks.
• Photocopies of each exploratory centre. Make copies of each centre for 1/4 of your class • Photocopies of question sheet, enough for each student • Possibly: Computers with Google Earth or hard copy maps • Ryan’s Well or Water Detectives Films
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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