UNICEF e-newsletter


UNICEF focuses attention on need for clean water and sanitation

29 September 2005

Clean water is the key to solving some of the world’s most urgent health issues. And access to clean water and sanitation is a crucial step in helping billions of people around the world emerge from poverty.

Worldwide, over 1 billion people lack safe water. And the problem is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa where millions of residents must walk for an hour or more just to fetch clean water.

Poor sanitation leads to poor health; only about one third of Africans have access to even a basic toilet. More than 700,000 African children die every year from diarrhoea, which often arises from poor sanitation. And diarrhoea can also lead to chronic malnutrition, which is responsible for over half of all child deaths in Africa.

In addition to the health toll, the lack of clean water has devastating educational and economic effects, which often hit women and young girls the hardest.

Sickness forces children to miss school, and can damage their ability to learn. And invariably, when water is far away, it’s the women and young girls who are sent to retrieve water for their families.

Such daily journeys are a physical burden on women, and prevent them from contributing to their nation’s economy.

That’s why UNICEF recently launched a water and sanitation project to provide safe drinking water for 2.1 million people across 1,400 rural communities in Nigeria. And it’s why UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman joined world leaders at the United Nations World Summit in New York this month – to focus attention on the pressing need for water and sanitation.

Because the next steps for millions around the globe should not be toward a distant source of water, but toward a better life.

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection

Photo of girls fetching water at top of page

© UNICEF/HQ04-0935/ Noorani
Two small girls at the Riyad refugee camp in the Darfur region fetch water from a handpump, at a UNICEF-supported water point

Video: UNICEF calls on global leaders to improve water and sanitation to protect women and children at the UN World Summit in NY.
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Related Links:

Initiative highlights African women’s needs for improved water and sanitation

New EU donation will help provide safe water for 2.1 million people

Women, Water and Hygiene Are Key to Change in Africa


Below are more links that you may be interested in:

Progress For Children: One in four infants is still at risk from vaccine-preventable diseases. Read the latest report card.

Photo essay: Schools in southern Sudan. Only one per cent of girls complete primary school in southern Sudan. Since 2002, local leaders, the Secretariat of Education, UNICEF, USAID and others have created over 250 Community Girls’ Schools offering accelerated basic studies in protected environments. Visit one of these schools.

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