#WaterAction for every child
Only urgent action can protect children from water insecurity.
The world is at a tipping point.
By 2030, half of the global population is expected to be living in water-stressed conditions. Competition for water resources will only intensify with increasing urbanization, population growth and the threat of climate change. As a result, we can expect more conflict, displacement and public health emergencies.
No one stands to suffer from the consequences of water insecurity more than children.
A deadly combination of disease, climate risks, and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene creates a triple threat for children.
Know the facts
Water insecurity threatens the well-being of children and their very survival. Click through for the facts:
Health and nutrition
Every day, over 1,000 children under five die from diseases linked to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene, including diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. When children get sick with diarrhoeal diseases, they are unable to absorb the nutrients they need to grow, exacerbating malnutrition. Over time this can lead to stunting and may irreversibly impact children's physical and mental development.
When schools do not have adequate water, children are ill-equipped for learning, studying and practicing safe hygiene like handwashing. Students are also more likely to fall ill. They may even be forced to miss school entirely to collect water for their families. And without access to separate hygiene and sanitation facilities, girls may skip school during their periods.
>>Read: 11 facts about water, sanitation and hygiene in schools
Carrying heavy loads of water places a great physical burden on children, and places them in harm’s way when they are forced to walk long distances to water sources. This is especially true for girls, as the task of collecting water most often falls on them.
Without safe water and sanitation, tensions escalate and give rise to conflict and displacement. In areas of protracted crises, children are 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe water and sanitation than from violence.
>>See: Children are facing deadly drought in the Horn of Africa
How governments can take #WaterAction
The only way to ensure all children have access to safe, sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is by strengthening all components of WASH services and by making them resilient to the growing impacts of climate change. Governments play a central role in urgently adapting and scaling up WASH services.
The solutions to water insecurity are clear, but they are not as simple as drilling bore holes and installing hand pumps.
UNICEF is calling on governments and partners to:
Scale up proven WASH solutions to achieve SDG 6 targets. These include: good governance and political leadership; effective and accountable coordination and regulation; public finance to unlock household and private investment; capacity development at all levels to sustain and drive progress; reliable data to support decision making and accountability; innovation to meet emerging challenges.
Rapidly scale up investment in the WASH sector, including global climate financing. Current WASH spending must increase threefold to meet SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2 by 2030, the cost of which is estimated at USD $114 billion per year in developing countries.
Prioritize leaving no one behind. Focus WASH and climate adaptation policies, programmes and strategies on the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized communities, including children, women, displaced populations and persons with disabilities.
Increase effective and accountable coordination and capacities to consistently provide timely, predictable, and high-quality water and sanitation services across the humanitarian-development-peace sectors, while ensuring a ‘do no harm’ approach.
Strengthen resilience in the WASH sector and communities. Ensure that all WASH services withstand climate-related events, strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacities of vulnerable communities, and operate using low-carbon energy sources, such as solar power.
#WaterAction: Donors and supporters
UNICEF aims to urgently mobilize an additional $330m from public and private partners to accelerate sector reforms in 65 priority countries and to reach at least 6 million people living in areas facing severe water insecurity.
The private sector must come together to solve the water challenges alongside governments, NGOs and affected communities.
>>Read: Critical business actions for achieving a water secure world