World Water Day: World’s poorest have least access to safe water

 

World Water Day: World’s poorest have least access to safe water

1,400 children under five die each day from causes linked to lack of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene
NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 21 March 2014 – Almost four years after the world met the global target set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for safe drinking water, and after the UN General Assembly declared that water was a human right, over three-quarters of a billion people, most of them poor, still do not have this basic necessity, UNICEF said to mark World Water Day.
On 26 November, children – bearing jerrycans and other containers – collect water from Lake Kivu, in the city of Goma, in the province of North Kivu. Access to safe water is limited because electrical lines have been cut, reducing water pumping and chlorination. By late November 2012 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, children and women continued to suffer from resurgent conflict between government forces and rebel groups. After a three-month ceasefire, violence erupted on 15 November in and around the city of Goma, in the province of North Kivu, following advances by the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group. Security is still critical. The latest crisis affected at least 70,000 children, of whom over 670 are unaccompanied or have been separated from their families. In Goma and surrounding areas, an estimated 130,000 people have been displaced; they are among over 900,000 displaced in the province. Recruitment of children into armed groups, lootings, and summary executions have also been reported. Gender-based violence, including rape and sexual assault, which has been endemic to this conflict for more than a decade, continues. Additionally, hundreds of schools have been looted or damaged since September. UNICEF, in coordination with other partners, supports ongoing relief efforts in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, education, child protection, health and nutrition and the provision of critical non-food items and shelter. To meet the immediate and medium-term needs of affected children and women over the next three months, UNICEF has requested an initial US$13.8 million, of which over 55 per cent had been received by 5 December.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1615/Holt

On 26 November 2012, children – bearing jerrycans and other containers – collect water from Lake Kivu, in the city of Goma, in the province of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Estimates from UNICEF and WHO published in 2013 are that a staggering 768 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, causing hundreds of thousands of children to sicken and die each year. Most of the people without access are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums.
UNICEF estimates that 1,400 children under five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to lack of safe water and adequate sanitation and hygiene.
“Every child, rich or poor, has the right to survive, the right to health, the right to a future,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. “The world should not rest until every single man, woman and child has the water and sanitation that is theirs as a human right.”
The MDG target for drinking water was met and passed in 2010, when 89 per cent of the global population had access to improved sources of drinking water — such as piped supplies, boreholes fitted with pumps, and protected wells. Also in 2010, the UN General Assembly recognised safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, meaning every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation. However, this basic right continues to be denied to the poorest people across the world.
“What continues to be striking, and maybe even shocking, is that even in middle income countries there are millions of poor people who do not have safe water to drink,” Wijesekera added. “We must target the marginalised and often forgotten groups: those who are the most difficult to reach, the poorest and the most disadvantaged.”
According to UNICEF and WHO estimates, 10 countries are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources. They are: China (108 million); India (99 million); Nigeria (63 million); Ethiopia (43 million); Indonesia (39 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo (37 million); Bangladesh (26 million); United Republic of Tanzania (22 million); Kenya (16 million) and Pakistan (16 million).
UNICEF says women and girls are disproportionately affected by lack of access to safe water. An estimated 71 per cent of the burden of drinking water collection is being shouldered by women and girls.
UNICEF WASH programming is taking place in over 100 countries, and new initiatives such as cost-effective drilling and community-based water safety planning are bringing safe water to families living in some of the most isolated regions. UNICEF has, for example, used hand-dug boreholes in Pakistan to supply safe water to around 100,000 people since 2012. UNICEF-supported ‘WASH in Schools’ programming has brought safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to millions of school children around the world.
This week, UNICEF launched a global social media campaign to demand action for the 768 million people without access to safe water. Followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be asked to discuss what water means to them through the use of photography and the hashtag #WaterIs to help raise awareness of what it means to live without access to safe drinking water.