water 'kills 1.5m children'
More than 1.5m
children under five die each year because
they lack access to safe water and proper
sanitation, says the United Nations
children's agency. In a report, Unicef says
that despite some successes, a billion
people worldwide do not have access to safe
drinking water from protected sources.More
than 1.2 billion people have gained access
to safe water since 1990.But sub-Saharan
Africa remains a major area of concern,
especially countries affected by conflict.
A Unicef deputy-director,
Vanessa Tobin, gave the example of Niger,
where only 13% of the population has access
to toilets of an acceptable standard, or
The number of poor
people in Africa increased in the past
decade by a third, while falling in India
and China. Over 300 million people lack
access to clean water and 450 million have
inadequate sanitation. And nearly one
African child in six dies before the age of
five. Increased foreign aid is needed to
tackle these problems.
The UN hopes to
halve the number of people without access to
clean drinking water and sanitation by 2015.
But progress has slowed due to population
increases and unexpectedly high migration to
urban areas, say the World Health
Organisation and Unicef. The Unicef report
says that children's education suffers
because they have to walk long distances to
fetch water, and that girls especially are
deterred by the lack of separate and clean
toilets in schools. Diarrhoea-related
diseases in young children could be cut by
more than a third in young children by
improving sanitation facilities, it adds.
443 million school days are lost
each year due to water-related diseases.
11% more girls attend
school when sanitation is available. (DFID)
40 billion working hours
are spent carrying water each year in Africa.
(Cosgrove and Rijsberman 1998)
Households in rural Africa spend an average
of 26% of their time fetching water,
and it is generally women who are burdened with the