Water, sanitation and hygiene
Low access to WASH services is affecting the health, survival and development of children in Sierra Leone
Major water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in Sierra Leone are the low levels of use of basic sanitation services, access to safe/quality drinking water and inadequate use of safe hygiene practices by children and their families. The determination of these priority concerns is based on the available evidence derived from the analysis of the national WASH situation. Only 16 per cent of the population have access to basic sanitation services with 28 per cent defecating in the open while 58 per cent and 23 per cent have no access to basic water services and practising sage hygiene practices respectively.
These WASH issues are also key government priorities are also articulated in laws and regulations, Government (New Direction) and the recent Presidential parliamentary address on national priorities.
Low access to WASH services significantly contributes to diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARIs), under-nutrition and worm infestations. It contributes to infections in health care settings and can lead to U5 morbidity and mortality and increased risk of maternal and new-born mortality. It can lead to both boys and girls missing school due to sickness or the time taken to collect water for the family and reduced cognitive attention due to worm infestations. It can also pose additional challenges for girls due to concern over the use of toilets and how to manage their menstrual hygiene.
Supporting WASH interventions in Sierra Leone is therefore critical in improving child health, welfare and developed within WASH in education (SDG4), health care facilities (SDG 3), Menstrual hygiene management and other women and girls interventions (SDG 5), WASH programming to reduce malnutrition – child stunting (SDG 2) to end child poverty (SDG 1); child protection and women from violence and dignity (SDG 16) among others SDGs.
UNICEF contribution to the solution
UNICEF WASH programme will support the Government of Sierra Leone to:
- Provide safe drinking water sources to deprived and hard-to-reach communities as well as during emergencies
- Improve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and to eliminate open defecation
- Improve access to WASH in institutions
- Provide WASH support during emergencies
- Strengthen WASH enabling environment for maximum utilisation of WASH services