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Water Sanitation Program in Saudi Arabia

Background Summary

The article by Murthy (2013) focused on water sanitation as a major concern that affects many nations around the world. The target population in this article was the poor members of the global society who are sometimes denied access to clean water because of over-privatization. The outcome of the study shows that access to clean water and adequate sanitation are becoming key issues both in developed and developing countries. Many large companies have emerged, selling bottled water at very high prices compared with that offered by the responsible government departments. Sometimes people are denied access to water because most of it is used by these companies. In this study, the main target population was the middle-aged working-class urban dwellers in the United States and Canada. Although the study included the rural setting for the purposes of comparison, the main setting for the research was urban centers.

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The study looked at the social and behavioral models that would facilitate the analysis of the prevalence of this problem among the target population. The researcher used the Health Belief Model to predict how people are likely to react as the problem increasingly become common in North America and various parts of the world (Murthy, 2013). Using this model, the researcher was able to determine that access to the clean water problem is increasingly becoming common in various parts of the world. The study shows more people are finding themselves denied access to clean water because of the increasing number of private companies using the same commodity. For the rich who can afford to purchase the bottled water on a regular basis, life is getting better. However, that is at the expense of the middle class and the poor who relied on the cheap water provided by the government.

Intervention/Program Proposal

Literature Review

According to Ouda et al., the demand for clean water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is increasing, especially in major urban centers where the population is rising very fast (692). The country has registered impressive economic improvement over the past two decades as it tries to diversify its economy. The country has improved its transport infrastructure, especially in urban centers. Companies in the banking and social services sectors have also increased the number of those they hire (Zimring and Rathje 12). The trends in economic growth have witnessed an increasing migration of people from rural to urban settings. Ward (31) says that people are moving to the urban centers in search of white-collar jobs in the service sector and other areas of the economy. The country’s urban centers have also been attracting international tourists and expatriates who come for various reasons (Gunawansa and Bhullar 58). The increased population has had a major impact on the use of water. The government is always under pressure to ensure that affordable, clean water is available for domestic use. Zohair (32) says that water and sanitation are increasingly becoming an issue in most of the country’s urban setting. The growing population means that the government has to review its sewerage plans to meet the increasing demands. Gunawansa and Bhullar (21) warn that open sewer systems pose serious health problems to the people in the affected region. Poor hygiene may cause diseases such as cholera, and dysentery among others.

Krieg (44) says that so far the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has successfully ensured that city dwellers have access to clean water for domestic use. However, it is important to appreciate the fact that the country has a scarce supply of natural water reserves in terms of rivers and freshwater lakes. Zohair (23) says that currently 50% of the water that is used in the country is obtained from the sea and then desalinated. The process of desalination is very costly and may not be sustainable if the existing technologies are improved to make the process cheap. The existing clean water natural reserves are limited in terms of their capacity to meet the current needs (Zimring and Rathje 32). However, water sanitation cannot be compromised because of limited resources and increasing demands. Sharma (28) notes that the cost of treating people affected by hygiene-related illnesses is higher than that of providing clean water to the people.

Major urban centers such as Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina have high a population, and the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases is high. As the government struggles to meet the growing demand, it is important that other stakeholders also get involved in addressing this problem. Krieg (90) says that institutions of healthcare need to sensitize people about water sanitation and the need to maintain high standards of hygiene at all times. People also need to be sensitized on the need to use water responsibly at all times to enhance sustainability. Private companies specialized in the manufacturing of various products that use a lot of water should come up with innovative ways of reducing their overreliance on water provided by the government (Zimring and Rathje 57). Some of these companies have been blamed for creating a water shortage for domestic use in countries such as India and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The problem can be replicated in the country if measures are not taken to deal with the problem.

The outcome of the study by Ouda et al. shows that the current water conservation practices are not effective enough to ensure that clean water is used sustainably (697). A significant amount of water is still lost because of poor practices when it comes to water use. The proposed intervention plan, referred to as the National Water Strategy (NWS), is to be spearheaded by the Ministry of Water and Electricity (Ouda et al. 398). The strategy is designed in a way that will ensure that the ministry uses various platforms to promote awareness among the public on how to use water sustainably. When implementing the strategy, the Ministry of Water and Electricity will be expected to work closely with the Ministry of Health to promote sanitation programs through the effective use of clean water. Based on the health belief model, the focus of this intervention plan is to change the behavior of the target group when it comes to the use of water. The goal is to ensure that they maximize the use of water by maintaining high levels of hygiene to help fight opportunistic diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea among other hygiene-related diseases.

Target Population and Setting

In this study, the target population was the middle-aged working-class urban dwellers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the most important population in the country, as Zohair (56) observes. The chosen target population is similar to that selected in the article by Murthy (2013) in terms of place of residence, age, and work status. However, the race was not a factor in this case as it was considered less relevant. Most of the people in the target population have young families they have to care for, while others also have to take care of their aging parents. This target population was chosen because of its significance to the country’s economy. They work in various sectors of the economy, from oil and gas to tourism, trade, transport, banking, and many other sectors of the economy.

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When they are affected by waterborne diseases because of poor hygiene, then the consequences can be dire not only to them but also to their family members. Although sanitation is not a critical issue in major cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is important to appreciate that as the demand for water continues to increase without an equivalent increase in the supply, the level of hygiene may soon become a problem. Another reason why this population was selected is that they are mostly the decision-makers in their families. According to Gunawansa and Bhullar (34), urban centers are important for the growth and development of the service sector of the economy, especially the banking and transport sectors. As such, it means that the government, working closely with various private sector firms, should find a way of increasing clean water supply in the urban centers.

How to Incorporate the Model into the Saudi Setting and Target Population

According to Sharma (45), Health Belief Model (HBM) is increasingly gaining popularity in social sciences to influence the behavioral pattern of people in a given setting. The model attempts to predict and explain the behavior of people under various psychological circumstances (Zimring and Rathje 79). Psychologists are also using the model to modify the behavior of people, especially when it is important to influence them to embrace a belief beneficial to them or the society in general. Zohair (81) says that when using the health belief model, it is important to take into consideration the goal that should be realized. The model can be modified to fit into various settings and to achieve different objectives in social and behavioral sciences. In this case, it is important to influence the target population to start embracing a culture that upholds high standards of hygiene and responsible use of water. These are the two critical issues that have been identified in this study.

The first intervention of promoting sanitation among the targeted population will be based on promotional campaigns using various media. As explained before, the targeted individuals are the decision-makers in their families. As such, if they are committed to ensuring that the families maintain high standards of sanitation, they can put measures in place to achieve that. The strategy is to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and mass media such as television and newspapers to inform them of the health and economic benefits of maintaining high levels of hygiene in their families. They should understand that it is their responsibility to protect their families from opportunistic diseases embracing cleanliness of the body, food items, eating utensils, and their homes. Sharma (21) says that through such promotional campaigns, they should also be made to understand how these goals can be achieved. Their perception of sanitation will be changed, and subsequently, most of the waterborne diseases will be eliminated.

The second strategy will be to promote awareness among the target population about the importance of using water responsibly. Although the need to maintain high standards of cleanliness cannot be compromised, it is equally important to ensure that sustainable use of water is not compromised. Water is a scarce resource in this country, and it is important to ensure that it is used responsibly. A report by Ward (41) shows that significant amounts of water are wasted at the domestic level because of irresponsible practices. Sometimes taps are left running even after they are used. In other cases, people fail to maximize the use of water at home. The target population needs to be sensitized about the significance of using water responsibly. First, they need to understand that the responsible use of water is an economic benefit to them. They get to reduce their monthly water bills, and that money can be used to meet other needs. Secondly, they need to understand that the country spends many resources to make water available for domestic use and as responsible citizens; they should economize the use of water. If they appreciate the scarcity of this resource and the need to use it sparingly, it is possible that the common practices that lead to wastage of water in families will be eliminated.

The original intervention as proposed in the article by Murthy (2013) focuses on the need to discourage excessive use of water by large corporations so that enough of this commodity may be made available for domestic use. However, the intervention approach proposed focuses on solving the problem from the end-user. The focus is to make the target group appreciate the need to use water responsibly. As Sharma (33) notes, if wastage of water can be eliminated at the domestic level, especially in the urban setting, then the surging demand for this product can be regulated. Using this strategy, the primary goal will be to reduce domestic water demand by over 45% in the next year. It is hoped that the target group will initiate various strategies at home that will help achieve the set goals. The desire to protect the environment and cut down monthly water expenses are expected to be the main motivating factors. The strategy is also expected to reduce cases of waterborne and hygiene-related diseases in the targeted urban centers in Saudi Arabia.

According to Zimring and Rathje (88), a significant number of people who are admitted to several hospitals around the country suffer from health problems associated with poor hygiene. The intake of germs in the form of food causes diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and a host of other diseases. The government of Saudi Arabia and families spend a lot to manage such complications. It is important to ensure that such costs are eliminating by fighting a preventable infection caused by poor sanitation. The target group should appreciate that they have a role to play in maintaining high levels of hygiene and using water responsibly.

The article by Murthy (2013) was conducted in the United States. Culture and environmental factors in the United States are different from those in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Based on these limitations, the implementation strategy may need to be changed. The primary target population in Saudi Arabia should be women. They are always responsible for maintaining high levels of hygiene at home. They should also know how to use water sustainably.

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Works Cited

Gunawansa, Asanga, and Lovleen Bhullar. Water Governance: An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures. Edward Elgar Publishers, 2013.

Krieg, Andreas. Socio-political Order and Security in the Arab World from Regime Security to Public Security. Springer International Publishing, 2017.

Murthy, Sharmila. “The Human Right(s) to Water and Sanitation: History, Meaning, and the Controversy Over-Privatization.” Berkeley Journal of International Law, vol. 31, no. 1, 2013, pp. 89-147.

Ouda, Omar, et al. “Review of Domestic Water Conservation Practices in Saudi Arabia.” Applied Water Science, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, pp. 689–699.

Sharma, Manoj. Theoretical Foundations of Health Education and Health Promotion. Cengage, 2017.

Ward, Christopher. The Water Crisis in Yemen: Managing Extreme Water Scarcity in the Middle East. Springer, 2015.

Zimring, Carl, and William Rathje. Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage. SAGE Reference, 2012.

Zohair, Sebai. Health in Saudi Arabia. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.

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