Water is an essential component of human body. Children can grow healthily only under good sanitation conditions and with clean water supply; unfortunately, these are not an endowment for every child.
In developing countries and regions around the world, there are:
- around 2.5 billion people lacking access to improved sanitation
- almost nine million people living with unclean water
Living with unclean water, lacking access to improved sanitation and inadequacy of basic knowledge on hygiene are reasons of nearly 4,100 child deaths every day caused by water-borne diseases including cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, hepatitis A, dysentery, dracunculiasis (Guineaworm disease) and trachoma etc, which are preventable. Although large-scale outbreaks of these diseases do not occur in the developed countries and regions, they are a crisis for the developing countries.
UNICEF has always been focusing on the situation of water and sanitation in the developing countries. Improving the water supply, hygiene practices and educating children with basic hygiene knowledge such as handwashing techniques are essentially important to prevent children from infection of these diseases in the developing countries and regions.
Besides survival and health, water and sanitation is at the same time affecting the development of children indirectly. Women and girls in the developing countries and regions are often bound to shoulder the housekeeping responsibility including finding water in remote areas and taking care of ill family members due to the traditional customs. Girls are thus deprived of their right to development as they have to sacrifice their learning opportunity to learn while taking up the housework instead.