World Water Day 2019

Leaving no one behind in East Asia & Pacific

Simon Nazer
Ryan Kalowa, 11, is happy to see the return of safe drinking water at his School in Papua New Guinea.
UNICEF/UN0260026/Mepham

20 March 2019

From Kiribati to Mongolia, and Laos to Timor-Leste and beyond, UNICEF is working tirelessly to ensure every child has access to safe, clean water – no matter who or where they are.

Easy access to clean water can be life changing. Without it, girls like 12-year-old Christina in Timor-Leste must still trudge through sometimes dangerous terrain to fetch heavy loads of water. Christina is losing around half of her day, each day, to fetch water for her family; hours that could be spent learning and playing like every child should.

 

Cristina Martins, 12, is caring water after fetching water from the spring in Letefoho, Timor-Leste.
UNICEF/UN0160425/Soares
Cristina Martins, 12, is caring water after fetching water from the spring in Letefoho, Timor-Leste.

To remedy this, UNICEF works with partners with a special focus on getting the services to those in need in the hardest to reach places. Today, Madalena, 16, in another remote village in Timor-Leste now has access to safe, clean water.

Madalena Saldanha Magno, 16, washes her hands under a tap in her home
UNICEF/UN0187967/Soares
Madalena Saldanha Magno, 16, washes her hands under a tap in her home

   


 

One clear goal: water for all

 

 

Sustainable Development Goal 6 has one clear goal: water for all by 2030. This means no child can be left behind, wherever they may be. UNICEF works with governments and partners across the region to help safe water flow into schools, homes and hospitals.

Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.

Girls in Khuvsgul, Mongolia were supported by UNICEF with access to facilities which allowed them to comfortably learn about and deal with menstrual hygiene – an issue often shrouded in taboos and misconceptions.  

Girls smiling inside a UNICEF's WaSH container for girls inside a local school dormitory in Khuvsgul, Mongolia.
UNICEF/UN062324/Batbaatar
Girls smiling inside a UNICEF's WaSH container for girls inside a local school dormitory in Khuvsgul, Mongolia.

 

When emergencies strike, UNICEF is there

Children are particularly at risk during emergencies and whenever an emergency strikes UNICEF is on hand to support families with access to safe water and sanitation facilities.

After the earthquakes in Papua New Guinea, the tsunami in Indonesia and even during the 2011 Bangkok floods, UNICEF was on hand to help ensuring children and families had access to safe water and sanitation facilities.

Judy Opis is the UNICEF Program Volunteer at Pomberal Village, Nipa, Papua New Guinea
Two girls stand outside toilets built by UNICEF in temporary shelters for survivors of the 2018 earthquake and Tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
A boy paddles a bamboo raft, and an attached makeshift raft, through flood waters near Laksi Temple in Bangkok, the capital.

UNICEF is also working in countries like Kiribati who are on the front lines of climate change impacts to help communities both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of global warming and sea level rise.

Peia Kararaua, 16, swims in the flooded area of Aberao village in Kiribati
UNICEF/UN055823/Sokhin
Peia Kararaua, 16, swims in the flooded area of Aberao village in Kiribati. Kiribati is one of the countries most affected by sea level rise.

 

An ordinary act with extraordinary results

When it comes to day-to-day, potentially lifesaving skills, handwashing is an ordinary act with extraordinary results.

Handwashing with soap – especially before preparing food and after using the toilet – is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diahrroeal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under five every year globally.

Celcia Soares Baros, 6 years, already knows that using soap while washing hands is important, thanks to hygiene lessons at school.
UNICEF Timor-Leste/2017/Ahelin

Safe drinking water, sustainable sanitation facilities and hygiene education in schools helps fulfill children’s rights to health, education and participation.  UNICEF helps governments to better respond to the voices of the marginalized and create the right conditions for delivery of WASH services for all children.

Fourth-grade students from Hnen Ser Kyin Middle School, Myanmar wash their hands at a community water point in a nearby village.
UNICEF/UNI193997/Gilbertson VII Photo
Fourth-grade students from Hnen Ser Kyin Middle School, Myanmar wash their hands at a community water point in a nearby village.

Ensuring everyone has access to safe water is a powerful and effective way to eliminate inequalities and radically improve lives. UNICEF remains dedicated to reaching those most left behind, to help improve the lives

A girl smiles while drinking water at a water point in the village of Adone in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
UNICEF/UNI186238/Noorani
A girl smiles while drinking water at a water point in the village of Adone in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The photos featuring in this story are currently part of a photo exhibition being held at the "Celebration of World Water Day ‘Leaving no one behind’" event in Bangkok.

World Water day is held annually on 22 March to focus attention on the importance of the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme of World Water Day this year is “Leaving No One Behind”.