The water crisis puts the health of 190 million children at risk

He drinking water It is still a scarce commodity in many countries and the drought associated with climate change, deficiencies in sanitation and water hygiene, and the diseases that derive from these problems constitute a triple threat to well-being, health, and even life. , from about 190 million children on the African continent, a new analysis of UNICEFthe UN Children’s Fund.

The report has been released on the eve of the Water Conference, a historic event that examines household access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, deaths that can be attributed to water problems, the Sanitation and hygiene among children under five years of age, and exposure to climate and environmental risksindicating in which countries or regions the child population faces the greatest threats, and where it is urgent to invest in measures that help prevent deaths.

“Africa is facing a water catastrophe. While crises related to climate and water are increasing around the world, nowhere else in the world are the risks so acute for children,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Director of Programs, warning: “storms devastating floods and historic droughts are already destroying facilities and homes, polluting water resources, creating hunger crises and spreading disease. But as difficult as current conditions are, without urgent action, the future could be much bleaker.”

The child population most vulnerable to climate threats

The analysis shows that the triple threat is especially severe in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia, making West and Central Africa one of the world’s regions most affected by water insecurity and meteorological phenomena related to climate change. Many of the most affected countries, especially in the Sahel, are also facing situations of instability and armed conflictswhich make it even more difficult for children to access safe drinking water and sanitation.

More than 1,000 children under the age of five die every day worldwide from diseases related to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Nearly a third of children living in the 10 most affected countries do not have access to safe drinking water at home, and two-thirds do not have basic sanitation services. A quarter of children are forced to defecate in the open and three quarters of minors cannot properly wash their hands because they lack soap and water at home.

As a consequence of this the Child mortality due to diseases caused by inadequate hygiene, such as diarrhea, is higher in these 10 countries. For example, six of them have suffered buds of anger in the last year. More than 1,000 children under the age of five die globally every day from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases, and approximately two in five of these deaths occur in these 10 countries.

These factors are present in 25% of the 163 countries in the world with the highest risk of exposure to climate and environmental threats. Elevated temperatures accelerate the reproduction of pathogens and are increasing 1.5 times faster than the global average in parts of West and Central Africa. Groundwater levels are also falling, requiring wells to be dug twice as deep as 10 years ago, and when it rains, it often rains heavily, causing flooding that contaminates dwindling water supplies.

In addition, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has classified these 10 countries as fragile or extremely fragile, and armed conflict in some countries could reverse gains in access to safe drinking water and sanitation. An example is Burkina Faso, where attacks on water facilities have increased as a strategy for communities to have to displace, and in 2022 alone there were 58 sabotages to these types of facilities, which left more than 830,000 without access to drinking water. people, more than half of whom are minors.


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