Jal Jeevan mission can save lives of 1.36 lakh under-5 children every year, says Nobel Prize Kremer


New Delhi: A major study led by Nobel laureate Michael Kremer has found that the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) can save 1.36 lakh lives of under-five children every year.

The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual tap connections by the year 2024 to all rural households.

“We estimate that if JJM succeeds in this mission, it will prevent around 1,36,000 deaths of children under 5 years of age per year. However, this will require that the water supplied through JJM is free of microbiological contamination “, states an article by Nobel laureate Michael Kremer.

In an article entitled ‘Potential reduction of child mortality through the expansion of access to safety
Drinking Water in India economists Michael Kremer, Akanksha Saletore, Witold Więcek and Arthur Baker suggested that the expected reduction in under-5 mortality from water treatment is one in four.

The researchers point out that in 2019, at the start of WYD, more than 50% of the population did not have access to drinking water.

The authors said that while geogenic pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride and nitrate are widespread in certain regions of India, the most ubiquitous type of pollution is microbial and should be avoided.

“Diarrhea is the third leading cause of under-five mortality in India. Water treatment is a cost-effective way to reduce diarrheal disease and child mortality,” the researchers said.

A recent meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials by Kremer et al (2022) suggested that the expected reduction in under-5 all-cause mortality from water treatment is one in four.

“This meta-analysis also suggests that water treatment is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce child mortality. Piped water supply is an important step in improving water quality. However, it is critical that be free of microbial contamination. Even in cases where water is treated at a central location, negative pressure in pipes can cause contamination,” the authors warn.

The study further suggests working with the Ministry and helping the effort by testing possible solutions for water quality treatment to reduce child deaths in India.

Michael Kremer meets with JJM officials

Michael Robert Kremer is an American development economist who was jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics with Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo for his experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Kremer had visited India in July this year. During his visit, Kremer interacted with Vini Mahajan, Secretary and senior officials of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UNICEF and other industry partners at Antyodaya Bhawan in New Delhi.

During the interaction, the Nobel laureate had said that almost 30% of child deaths can be reduced if potable water is made available for families to drink.

While addressing the officials, Kremer cited the findings of his studies and said that newborns are susceptible to waterborne diseases and the survey conducted during his research concluded that 1 in 4 deaths, related to children, can be prevented by providing drinking water. . Hence, the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program plays a crucial role in improving health parameters, especially among children, he had said.

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