Children live in a safe and clean environment
Protect children and adolescents from the consequences of natural disasters and emergencies.
Millions of children in the region live in insecure environments
Children in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly those living in poverty, are very vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters and are especially affected by them. Millions of children in the region do not have access to services such as water and basic sanitation.
Latin America and the Caribbean currently experience an increase in the number of natural disasters, as well as health-related emergencies, such as Zika, in addition to other phenomena such as the lack of sustainable access to drinking water or a greater impact of violence and migration.
Despite the significant progress recorded, 82 million people still have no access to basic sanitation services, of which 15 million were still practicing open defecation and 20 million lack access to drinking water. Children, especially those living in poverty, are highly vulnerable to disasters and are severely affected by their impacts. It is estimated that at least 198,000 children live in high or extremely high tropical storm-risk areas and 848,000 children live in extremely high flood-risk areas.
Recurrent and chronic crises are increasingly affecting the region, an upward trend due to the impact of climate change. The scarcity of statistical data makes it difficult to accurately estimate the child population affected by disasters. However, the frequency and dispersion of disasters, as well as the growth of children, mean that the number of children affected is increasing.
With this background, adaptation to climate change, risk management and the consolidation of response mechanisms, as well as the investment of urban and climate policies, should be a priority.
Ensuring children and adolescents' rights
In development contexts, UNICEF guarantees the right of children and adolescents to a safe and clean environment by:
- Work with partners and allies to generate evidence, as well as defend and strengthen national systems, with special attention to gender approaches.
- Strengthen national capacities to end defecation in the open air and/or fecal contamination.
- Support water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiatives in schools and health care centers, taking into account the specific needs of women, girls and children living with disabilities.
In humanitarian situations:
- UNICEF delivers a rapid, effective humanitarian response in line with the 'Basic Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action', increasing the scope and quality of humanitarian assistance, recognizing the different impacts (including gender) that disasters have on women and men, girls and boys, and ensuring the centrality of protection.
- Strengthening national systems by supporting coordination, effective strategies and improving capacities for rapid expansion of rescue and protection services in humanitarian situations.
- UNICEF will strengthen its work in humanitarian action through risk-based planning, including investments in key preparedness actions, national and subnational risk assessments, and the promotion of risk reduction strategies in development plans and sectoral policies to contribute to the social cohesion and the consolidation of peaceful societies.
Strategic work areas
- Equitable access of communities to safe and sustainable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, including resilience to climate change in urban environments and in fragile and humanitarian contexts.
- Development and implementation of multisectoral policies and programs for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate resilience.
- Delivery and support for humanitarian actions that are contextualized, multisectorial and people-centered, including advocacy, technical assistance and delivery of supplies.