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World Water Day 2014: Indonesia still lagging behind on access to safe water

Diarrhoea remains a major cause of death among young children

JAKARTA, 21 March 2014 – Almost one in six people in Indonesia still do not have access to safe drinking water, a key contributing factor high rates of diarrhea and related child deaths.

“There has been important progress in the last decade but too many people are still being denied this most basic right,” said UNICEF Indonesia Country Representative Angela Kearney on the occasion of World Water Day which is commemorated on 22 March. “Diarrhoea which is often caused by unclean water as well as by poor sanitation and hygiene practices remains one of biggest killers of children under five in Indonesia,” she added.

The percentage of people with access to an improved water source increased from 70 per cent in 1990 to 84 per cent in 2011. However, it is much lower in rural areas (76 per cent) compared to urban areas (93 per cent) and among poor people. The Indonesia Basic Health Survey Riskesdas 2007 reports diarrhoea as the cause of 31 per cent of deaths between the ages of 1 month to a year, and 25 per cent of deaths between the ages of one to four years old.


6th grader Ical, 11(arms crossed) and Rio, 13, washing hands using tip-taps in their school.  Fatumnasi Elementary in Fatumnasi village of Soe, NTT participated in the UNICEF WISE project.  Teachers and students received hygiene training from the program and are responsible for sharing the information with peers and family.

According to UNICEF and WHO estimates, Indonesia is among a group of 10 countries that are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources. They are: China (108 million); India (99 million); Nigeria (63 million); Ethiopia (43 million); Indonesia (39 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo (37 million); Bangladesh (26 million); United Republic of Tanzania (22 million); Kenya (16 million) and Pakistan (16 million).

Globally, over three-quarters of a billion people, most of them poor, still do not have access to safe water, despite the fact that the world on average already met the global target for safe drinking water set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four years ago.  The MDG target for drinking water was met and passed in 2010, when 89 per cent of the global population had access to improved sources of drinking water — such as piped supplies, boreholes fitted with pumps, and protected wells.

Also in 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, meaning every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation. However, this basic right continues to be denied to the poorest people across the world.

Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and lack of hygiene not only affect the health, safety, and quality of life of children. UNICEF estimates that 1,400 children under five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to lack of safe water and adequate sanitation and hygiene. 

“Every child, rich or poor, has the right to survive, the right to health, the right to a future,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF's global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. “The world should not rest until every single man, woman and child has the water and sanitation that is theirs as a human right.”

“What continues to be striking, and maybe even shocking, is that even in middle income countries there are millions of poor people who do not have safe water to drink,” Wijesekera added. “We must target the marginalized and often forgotten groups: those who are the most difficult to reach, the poorest and the most disadvantaged.”


Students collect clean water in jerrycans from nearby water source to be used in school.

This week, UNICEF launched a global social media campaign to demand action for the 768 million people without access to safe water.  Followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be asked to discuss what water means to them through the use of photography and the hashtag #WaterIs to help raise awareness of what it means to live without access to safe drinking water.

For more information on how to get involved, please follow UNICEF on Twitter (@UNICEF and @UNICEFwater), Facebook ( and Instagram (



UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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For further information please contact:

Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Tel: 1 212-326-7586, Mobile: 1 917-213-4034,

Nuraini Razak , UNICEF Indonesia, Mobile:+628119201654 ,



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