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