Study: More trees improve water sanitation and bring down child deaths

According to a global study published in the journal Nature Communications, more trees at water sources in poorer nations improve sanitation and as a consequence, fewer children die from diarrhoea, identified as one of the leading causes of death by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in children, and a preventable disease that claims the lives of more than 500,000 children under the age of five annually.

The study looked at 300,000 children, examining their health in relation to the quality of watersheds across 35 countries, including Bangladesh, Colombia, and Nigeria, and discovered that healthier children were in location where there were more trees upstream.

“This shows, very clearly, how healthy ecosystems can directly support human health and welfare,” Brendan Fisher, a researcher at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States (U.S.), released in a statement. “This suggests that protecting watersheds, in the right circumstances, can double as a public health investment.”

According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, the study, which examined and analysed U.S. foreign aid data pulled up from over a period of thirty years, found that increasing the number of trees by a third near watershed sources in areas can improve water sanitation just as effectively and efficiently as indoor plumbing and toilets.

“These findings clearly show that forests and other natural systems can complement traditional water sanitation systems, and help compensate for a lack of infrastructure,” Diego Herrera, the lead author of the study, said.


Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation