Children in West and Central Africa

UNICEF in the region

Polio immunization

Child and Maternal Health


HIV/AIDS in the region


Water and sanitation

Child protection


Water and sanitation

Children fetching water in a neighborhood in Brazzaville
© UNICEF/WCARO/2007/Helali
Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo


Water, sanitation and hygiene are key to child survival, development and growth.

Five years to the 2015 deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the water and sanitation situation in West and Central Africa remains a major concern.

Despite the efforts made by some countries, approximately 155 million people in West and Central Africa – that is 39% of the population - are without access to safe drinking water and, current trends indicate that only seven countries will reach the MDG water target.

The situation of sanitation is even more worrying as 291 million people do not have access to improved sanitation, of which 101 million have access to no sanitation facilities at all, and no country is on track to achieve the MDG target for sanitation.

The implications of this situation for children are shocking: about half a million children die each year from water-borne diseases such as diarrhea – the second leading cause of child mortality in a region where two children out of ten die before their fifth birthday.

Resources on access to water and sanitation in West and Central Africa

Case studies on the European Commission-UNICEF partnership for water and sanitation:

Cote d'Ivoire [.pdf]

Burkina Faso [.pdf]

Combatting cholera

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