Environmental Health


Environmental Health Essay, Research Paper


Subject page

Contents .1

1.0 Problems in developing countries .2

1.1 Political problems 2

1.2 Environmental problems 2

1.3 Health problems 2

2.0 The role of civil/environmental engineers 3

2.1 How are engineers able to help with these problems 3

3.0 Existing solutions .4

3.1 Long term solutions 4

3.2 Short term solutions . 4

4.0 Conclusions 5

References . 6

1.0 Problems in developing countries

Developing countries suffer from short life expectancy, because of extremely low living standards. Apart from the lack of education and poor housing conditions, a very important need of theirs is not covered and this is a guarantee of every day s potable water as well as an appropriate drainage system. This essay is about the role of the environmental/civil engineer in the relief of problems that developing countries are dealing with. Firstly the actual problems that are relevant to waste water treatment are going to be stated. These problems can often be of a political, environmental and health nature.

1.1 Political problems

Probably the most important of the problems developing countries deal with are of a political nature as they are the root of most of the rest of the problems. It is an often phenomenon that the local authorities are unable to provide the locals with basic health services, education and environmental management. There is a big difference in the benefits (sometimes quite essential for a healthy living), richer from poorer groups are able to enjoy, something, that to one extent, shows the equality standards in that society.

1.2 Environmental problems

The environmental problems developing countries are dealing with are:

Lack of piped water supplies.

Lack of water sources for human consumption, as most of them are contaminated.

Lack of drainage for the disposal of excreta.

No sanitation

Reference: Chapter3, The city Environment, Environmental problems in Third World Cities, Jorge E.Hardoy, Diana Mitlin, David Satterthwaite

1.3 Health problems

The health problems that result from the above environmental problems are summarised bellow:

Waterborne: cholera, diarrhoeal diseases, enteric fevers, infective jaundice, pinworm, polio, roundworm, leptospirosis, whipworm

Water-washed: scabies, school sores, trachoma, leishmaniasis, relapsing fever, typhus

Water-based: bilharzia, guinea worm

Water-related: sleeping sickness, filaria, malaria, river blindness, yellow fever, breakbone fever.

Reference: Table2.1, Problems in the home, workplace and neighbohood, Environmental problems in Third World Cities, Jorge E.Hardoy, Diana Mitlin, David Satterthwaite

In the problems developing countries are dealing with, the civil/environmental engineers can produce projects effective enough to help a lot, people who are in need.

2.0 The role of civil/environmental engineers

Civil/environmental engineers are able to help conditions like this as their knowledge should include wastewater treatment technologies. Apart from the scientific knowledge though they should have the education to be able to apply that knowledge efficiently in the given situation of developing countries.

2.1 How are engineers able to help with these problems

Their knowledge allows them to be able to produce effective projects for wastewater treatment. But only the technical-scientific knowledge would not be enough for the actual implementation or success of the project. The question here is what is the purpose of the engineer being there. Is it only the practical construction of the project or to help, to make a change in the lives of these people?

With the word change not meaning the transfer of western civilisation there, as this might prove even worse. With the word change meaning offering them the knowledge, this way giving them the choice to use a part of a different culture in theirs and on their own.

A practical construction of the project on its own would be unsuccessful as it is something foreign to them and it might even not be accepted. From the side of the engineer it would mean either disrespect to their culture or lack of actual interest about the benefit of these people.

The motive as well as the virtues of the engineer, (given the knowledge one would have) are going to be crucial for the success of a project that has as its purpose to alleviate the poverty of a number of people.

It is very important that the engineer not only has constant communication with people but actually motivates them and enables them to act on their own.

Most of the engineers help developing countries through governmental agencies or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose role is included bellow.

3.0 Existing solutions

Apart from the government lead actions that are taking place a lot of help is taken from outside factors on of the most important ones being the NGOs.

NGOs are organisations whose functioning is based upon donations of people. Volunteers donating and working have helped (and still do) in many circumstances emergency situations in developing countries. In EU and USA NGOs and citizens have the ones that have forced governments to change their policy many times towards a more environment- respecting attitude.

Reference: Notes for the CN319

3.1 Short-term solutions

NGOs from all around the world can help developing countries, usually with short-term solutions. The solutions they provided have helped many times to save lives of people, they don t stop though, to be short term so people in developing countries, are not able to enjoy the benefits of outside NGOs efforts for long.

3.2 Long-term solutions

Developing countries and especially the poorest groups, lack not only representatives sometimes, but also NGOs. Maybe the saddest developing countries part is that their energy (and consequently their confidence) is so much absorbed from dealing with every day s vital problems, that rarely do they complain, demand or protest.

In some developing countries existing national and local NGOs (e.g. Environment in Delhi, in India) have managed to mobilise the people to some extent, which is rather admirable. And this because the implementation of a project by outside NGOs that would provide clean water to a group of people for example in the long term can make them more dependent to outside aid, instead of empowering them.

So instead of funding outside NGOs wouldn t it be more efficient in the long-term to fund these people s NGOs or help them to create any.

Of course the first step is to motivate people who are far from thinking subjects like these, which affect their lives to an amazing extent.

NOTE: Another point that has to be made concerning the long-term solutions is the consultation of women when projects are planned. Women are the ones responsible for: water collection, sanitation, laundry, disposing of household wastes and most of the household necessities.

4.0 Conclusions

Developing countries suffer from numerous problems, with some of the most important being water related problems. Their root is usually political problems and the result is lives of people being lost.

The role of the environmental engineer in developing countries is crucial. And that is because the project he/she implements can be really effective or even more destructive (with the difference between the two results being huge for the people).

NGOs is one the solutions existing already. Outside NGOs are very effective as short term solutions in emergency situations in problems developing countries are dealing with. What should be given more attention to though are the NGOs within that country.

There is actually hiding the role of the civil/ environmental engineer. The practical only implementation of a project would have a positive short-term result, but being used as the only method would result in the developing countries becoming more dependent.

The civil/environmental engineer regarding that is there to help, which implies his/her existence there not only as a scientist full of knowledge but as a caring personality as well, should try to be close to the people and respect their culture. Above all though he/she should propose plans that not only include community participation but try to mobilise them as much as possible.


1. Environmental problems in Third World Cities

Jorge E.Hardoy, Diana Mitlin, David Satterthwaite

Earthscan Publications Ltd

2. Mainstreaming he Environment, World Bank

3. Healthy City projects in developing countries

Edmundo Werna, Trudy Harpham, Ilona Blue, Greg Gold stein

Earthscan Publications Ltd

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