All children have the right to be healthy. Yet thousands of children die every day because of inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services and poor hygiene practices. More than 125 million children under the age of 5 live in households without access to safe water, and around 2.6 billion people - almost half the developing world’s population – lack access to improved sanitation facilities.
Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Children – particularly girls – are denied their right to education, because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities meaning they drop out of school, or because they are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water for their family, or they are too sick or weak to attend school. Poor farmers and wage earners are less productive due to illness, health systems are overwhelmed and national economies suffer. Without WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), sustainable development is impossible.
How UNICEF helps
UNICEF works in more than 90 countries around the world to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and to promote safe hygiene practices. We sponsor a wide range of activities and work with many partners, including families, communities, governments and like-minded organisations. In emergencies we provide urgent relief to communities and nations threatened by disrupted water supplies and disease.
UNICEF follows a rights based approach to our programmes. We work locally with governments and partners to develop innovative approaches and maximise resources.
UNICEF is a leading member of the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership and is a member of End Water Poverty.