Script 52.5


Dirty water is dangerous.

People make water dirty by urinating or defecating near ponds, wells, and rivers.

Every year many people die from diseases spread by dirty water.

Even if water looks clean, it may not be.

It can contain harmful germs that are too small to see.

These germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, intestinal worms and typhoid fever.

All of these diseases start because people defecate near the water supply – a well, a stream, or a pond.

And they spread because people don’t wash their hands.

These diseases are caused by germs that get in your mouth when you drink dirty water or eat dirty food.

Here’s a story that shows how disease germs get into a person’s body.

Mano is a little boy with diarrhea.
Every time he has a bowel movement, millions of tiny disease germs pass out of him in his feces.

Mano’s mother helps him clean himself, but afterwards she forgets to wash her hands.

Some of the tiny disease germs get on her fingers.

Of course the germs are so small that she can’t see them and doesn’t know they are there.

Later the mother prepares dinner.

While she is handling the food the germs from her dirty fingers get on the food.

Her daughter Mara eats the food – and the disease germs.

Soon Mara also has diarrhea.

The germs have spread quickly from Mano to his mother and sister.

Remember that diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, worms, and typhoid all spread this way.


There’s another common way that these diseases are spread.

Flies live in garbage and feces.

Germs from the garbage and feces stick to their feet.

When flies walk around on your food the germs on their feet get on the food.

When you eat the food you swallow the germs that are stuck to the flies’ feet.

Then you get diarrhea or worms or another disease.

So how can you stop these diseases from spreading?

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water after every bowel movement and before you eat.
  2. Drink clean water only. Take your water from a clean, safe source.
  3. Wash fruit and vegetables. Peel fruits if there is no clean water for washing.
  4. Keep flies away from food.
  5. Don’t urinate or defecate near ponds, wells or rivers. Use a latrine if possible.
  6. Keep animals away from drinking water sources.

If you keep yourself, your home, your family, and your village clean, you can stop diseases before they start.

Your health is your responsibility.


Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Managing Editor, DCFRN; with Mario Zonis, Journalist, National University of Lujan, Argentina.

Reviewed by: Dr. Elizabeth Hillman, International Health Consultant, Quebec, Canada.

Information Sources

Water gardens and health: a guide for community educators, Stephen Minkin, 1992. United Nations Development Program, One United Nations Plaza, New York, New York, 10017, U.S.A.

Keep clean and stay healthy: DCFRN Package 24, script 10, 1992.