Water Is Life
World Water Day, 22 March 2022
On World Water Day, UNICEF and partners are working tirelessly so that children and their families in Ethiopia can access water, hygiene, and sanitation services (WASH), wherever they are.
However, the challenges are huge - 89 million people do not have access to clean water. That is more than three quarters of the population. For children, 90 per cent lack access to basic sanitation.
Water is literally the source of life. When you provide a child with safe water, basic toilets and teach good hygiene practices, children are given a healthier start in life and are able to survive and thrive.
However, acute shortages of clean water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices threaten the lives of children leaving them prone to life threatening diseases like diarrhea and malnutrition.
Children miss out on an education as they have to travel long distances in search of water.
And in times of drought, the lack of clean water is even more devastating. Children miss out on an education as they can no longer go to school as they have to travel long distances in search of water for livestock and their families. Children who are out of school are at risk of exploitation and pushed into dangerous coping mechanisms.
But with thanks to the support of our donors, last year, UNICEF and partners reached over 2 million people with basic water supply services and over 5 million with emergency WASH services through the Rapid Response Mechanism. In addition, nearly 900,000 people gained access to basic sanitation services both in humanitarian and development settings.
We are also installing sustainable and environmentally friendly water supply systems – some powered by solar panels for long term development outcomes.
In addition, in order to end open defecation in a country where 22 million people openly defecate, one innovative solution is the installation of SATO pans. The SATO pan is a toilet pan which uses a mechanical water seal to close off pit latrines from the open air. It keeps them cleaner and reduces disease transmission from insects that come into contact with human waste. By keeping public latrines safer and cleaner, more communities will use them instead of openly defecating. Last year, 537 communities with a total population of nearly 3 million people were certified to be living in open defecation free environments.
And as part of our gender-programming, we are helping women set up small businesses where they can sell water and different affordable sanitation items.
These are some of the many initiatives UNICEF Ethiopia is implementing to ensure every child has access to clean water and basic sanitation. Happy World Water Day!