Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Without the basic needs of clean water, toilets and good hygiene, the lives of children are at risk

UNICEF Niger/Dicko


Surrounded by the vast Sahara desert, Niger experiences intense droughts, poor soil conditions and the gradual spread of the desert.

Floods and epidemics are common in urban areas because of the lack of adequate infrastructure and systems to treat waste water and properly manage sewage sludge. 

Access to public services like safe drinking water and household sanitation is still limited despite some progress.

The use of clean drinking water improved from 34 per cent in 1990 to 58 per cent in 2015, however, open defecation – one of the most unsanitary hygiene practices where fields, bushes, forests, streams, rivers and other open spaces are used as toilets – is still practiced by 71 per cent of the population. Diarrhea, a water-borne illness, is the second biggest killer of children in Niger.


UNICEF supports the Government and municipalities to improve access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation for vulnerable families and children, and to reduce the country’s high levels of open defecation.

This is done by helping the water and sanitation sector to develop a strategy, coordination mechanism, an effective monitoring and evaluation system and stronger capacity.

At service delivery level, UNICEF works with partners to bring clean water and adequate sanitation to schools, health centres and communities, including in emergency situations.

UNICEF also helps children, families, teachers, health workers and communities change their behaviour and improve hygiene practices and sanitation conditions.

“We have toilets at my place and I am very glad that we do. It’s dirty seeing people defecate around the village” Aminata, 11 years.



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