Water, sanitation and hygiene
UNICEF works with governments to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
Without basic access to safe water and toilets, the lives of thousands of children are at risk. For children under five, water and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death across the Pacific.
Small size, fragility, natural vulnerability and limited resources all contribute to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges in Pacific island countries.
A third of children in the Pacific do not have access to good sanitation, and one in ten do not have access to safe drinking water.
90 per cent of the total population in the Pacific have access to an improved drinking water source but this rate is significantly lower in rural areas. Primary types of unimproved drinking-water sources include surface water such as rivers, lakes, unprotected dug wells and ponds which pose significant health risks to people, especially children.
Access to improved sanitation is uneven in the Pacific region with Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu hosting 81 per cent of the population without access.
Unimproved sanitation facilities used in the Pacific include shared toilets, pit latrine without a slab, flush/pour to anything other than septic tank or sewer. These types of toilets ultimately create conditions of contaminating drinking water source and food.
What’s more, only 40 per cent of households across six countries in the region practice safe disposal of children’s faeces practices.
The impact of poor water and sanitation services falls disproportionately on women who bear responsibility for all household water and sanitation related tasks such as cleaning, cooking, washing, caring for children and the sick.
UNICEF’s approach is to strengthen national systems and capacity through a mix of community based-activities and collecting evidence to advocate for equitable investments in children. During emergencies, we are also there to provide support for those in need.
UNICEF Pacific, in partnership with the governments and civil society organisations, contributes to the rights of children to survival and development through improved drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene behavior.
We are doing this through:
- Construction of water and sanitation facilities for communities, schools and health centres;
- Supporting communities to achieve total sanitation coverage;
- Construction of WASH facilities in schools;
- Providing WASH assistance during emergency responses; and
- Strengthening national level legal systems and policies for WASH.