UNICEF says 500 children die every day from lack of safe water, sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa.
DAKAR, Senegal, 15 December 2015 – Around 180,000 children under 5 years old die every year – roughly 500 a day – in sub-Saharan Africa due to diarrhoeal diseases linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), UNICEF said ahead of a conference in Dakar on financing for the sector.
“With children dying every single day, with millions stunted, with such a huge economic toll, it cannot be business as usual,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West & Central Africa Manuel Fontaine. “The pace of progress has to speed up exponentially – and it’s going to take strong policies; robust financing; and a major shift in priorities among those who have the power to act.”
Currently, nearly half of the global population without access to improved drinking water lives in sub-Saharan Africa and some 700 million people in the region lack access to improved sanitation. With a population which has nearly doubled in the last 25 years, access to sanitation only increased by 6 percentage points and to water by 20 percentage points across the region in the same period, leaving millions behind.
UNICEF said that without speedy action, the situation can drastically worsen within the next 20 years, as rapidly rising populations outstrip the efforts of governments to provide essential services. For example, the number of people in the region who defecate in the open is higher now than it was in 1990. Meanwhile, open defecation has been linked to an increase in stunting among children.
We love our children (Team Healthy Jons).