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UNICEF and WSSCC Launch “WASH Partnership”

New bid to accelerate efforts in meeting Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation by 2015

NEW YORK, 3 March 2006 – UNICEF and the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) are forging links and raising their collaboration to a new level by entering into a “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Partnership” to be announced at a special event on Monday, 6 March at UNICEF House.

The move is a bid to accelerate efforts by both organizations in helping countries achieve Target 10, Goal-seven of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. 

The challenge is formidable: over 2.6 billion people worldwide – 40 per cent of the world’s population – lack basic sanitation facilities and more than 1.1 billion people have no access to a safe water supply.  This results in approximately 1.6 million deaths per year, including some 4,500 children dying each day, from diarrhoea and other water-, sanitation- and hygiene-related diseases. According to WHO and UNICEF, the global sanitation target will be missed by half a billion people – most of them in rural Africa and Asia, where four out of five children either use surface water or walk long distances to find a protected water source.   Of those who do not have access to improved sanitation, 75 per cent (1.98 billion) live in Asia, 18 per cent (0.47 billion) are in Africa and five per cent (0.13 billion) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In welcoming the new Partnership, WSSCC Chair Roberto L. Lenton said: ”With the success of its WASH campaign, the Council has an excellent track record of raising awareness and advocacy of water, sanitation and hygiene issues as integral to poverty eradication and sustainable development. With the help of its national WASH coalitions, networks and partners worldwide, I am confident that joining forces with UNICEF’s extensive presence and formidable experience in these areas will make a big difference in saving lives.”

“Water and sanitation-related illness is a major drain on the health of children and prosperity of nations,” said UNICEF Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation Vanessa Tobin. ”UNICEF is committed to reducing this toll and help to bring access to more people in line with the Millennium Development Goals.”

The new partnership will focus on building links with civil society, hygiene promotion, water quality testing, emergency programming, community support and national capacity-building.  The two organizations will work to influence policy at the national level and effect behavioural change at the grassroots level.  The WSSCC, which was first established in 1990, will specifically aim to create a coalition mechanism between policy-makers and other stakeholders, mainly through advocacy. WSSCC’s national coordinators and regional representatives will work closely with UNICEF’s WASH focal points in the developing world in implementing joint activities and in making the WASH Partnership a reality on the ground.   UNICEF will host the WSSCC Secretariat, previously hosted by the World Health Organization.

For more information, please contact:

Claire Hajaj, UNICEF New York, +1 212 326 7566, chajaj@unicef.org


Eirah Gorre-Dale, WSSCC, New York +1 914 309-5491, gorre-dale@un.org/eirahgd@aol.com


(Note to journalists: Ms. Ann M. Veneman and Mr. Roberto L. Lenton will be joined by other key speakers at the launch of the WASH Partnership which  will take place on Monday, 6 March 2006,  from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at UNICEF House, 3 UN Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017.)




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