Water and sanitation
Supplies and services that provide access to clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene can save children’s lives.
Worldwide, 844 million people lack even a basic source of drinking water and 2.3 billion do not have access to basic sanitation facilities like latrines. This leaves communities – children among them – exposed to harmful substances that cause life-threatening diseases.
For children under five, water- and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death. These include diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Unsafe drinking water also puts children at risk of malnutrition, as well as the risk of contracting typhoid and polio.
- More than 1,300 children under the age of five die every day because of diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene.
- About 892 million people worldwide still practice open defecation, leaving communities exposed to water- and sanitation-related diseases.
We can prevent this together by improving access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for children and their families. This is especially important during conflicts or disasters, or among poor and marginalized communities, where access can be difficult or compromised.
UNICEF works with partners in government, with NGOs, other UN agencies and the private sector in more than 100 countries to make safe water and sanitation more widely accessible for every child.
In 2021, UNICEF procured $145.4 million of goods to deliver solutions for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), which included:
- 468.8 million water purification tablets and chlorination/flocculation sachets, which could treat 10.6 billion litres of water to support 45 countries
- 2.6 million hygiene kits delivered to 55 countries
We also work with partners and industry to support the development of local markets that can service needs in the long term. Ultimately, healthy, vibrant and sustainable local markets are key to enabling access to safe water, adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for every child.
These are the primary ways in which we work to ensure supply of safe water and sanitation services to eliminate preventable diseases:
- Clean drinking water: Improving access through solutions to drill wells, pump and transport drinking water, as well as supplying appropriate water treatment options in emergency situations.
- Accessible sanitation facilities: Improving the availability, safety and accessibility of latrines for children, girls and women, as well as the elderly and persons with disabilities.
- Good hygiene practices: Promoting good hygiene as a cost-effective health intervention to reduce the disease burdens on communities.