Jal Jeevan Mission will prevent around 1.36 lakh under-5 deaths per year

New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) The Jal Jeevan Mission’s ambition to bring safe drinking water to all rural homes is likely to be highly valuable, preventing around 136,000 child deaths annually.
This is as per a paper titled “Potential Reduction in Child Mortality through Expanding Access to Safe Drinking Water in India” by Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer with Akanksha Saletore, Witold Wiecek, and Arthur Baker.
“We hope to work with the Ministry and assist in this effort by testing possible solutions to water quality treatment such as rechlorination,” said the experts.
The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India.
“We estimate that if JJM succeeds in this mission, it will prevent around 1,36,000 under-5 deaths per year. However, this will require that water delivered through JJM is free from microbiological contamination,” the paper said.
In 2019, at the inception of JJM, more than 50 per cent of the population did not have access to safe drinking water.
Although geogenic contaminants such as arsenic, fluoride, and nitrate are widespread in certain regions of India, the most ubiquitous type of contamination is microbial. Diarrhea is the third most common responsible disease for under-five mortality in India.
Water treatment is a cost-effective way to reduce diarrheal disesase and child mortality. A recent meta-analysis of 15 randomised controlled trials conducted by Kremer et al (2022) suggests that the expected reduction in all-cause under-5 mortality from water treatment is around one in four, the paper said.
This meta-analysis also suggests that water treatment is among the most cost-effective ways to reduce child mortality. Providing piped water is an important step towards improving water quality. However, it is critical that it be free of microbial contamination.
Even in cases where water is treated at a central location, negative pressure in pipes can cause contamination. For example, a 2019 study in Maharashtra found high rates (37 per cent) of E. Coli contamination in piped water samples.
Cost-effectiveness analysis in Kremer et al. 2022 also suggests that water treatment is among the most cost-effective ways to reduce child mortality. This implies that efforts to reach as many people as possible with safe water are likely to have very large net benefits.

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