According to the UN children’s charity Unicef, contaminated drinking water and a lack of sanitary infrastructure are endangering the lives of many adolescents around the world. “Every day, more than 1,000 children under the age of five die worldwide from diseases caused by unclean water, a lack of sanitation and poor hygiene,” UNICEF said on Monday in New York.
According to a new analysis by the organization, 190 million children in ten African countries are at risk. The situation is most serious in the sub-Saharan countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia. Many of these countries suffer from instability and armed conflicts, making it even more difficult for children to have access to clean water and sanitation.
March 22nd is World Water Day. The UN water conference in New York also starts on this day. The aim is to examine the extent to which internationally agreed goals, including the UN sustainability goal of access for all people to clean water by 2030, can be achieved. Two billion people worldwide – one in four people – do not have clean water.
“Africa is facing a water disaster”
With a view to the conference in New York, Unicef is calling for more investment in water, sanitation and hygiene as well as climate protection. In addition, the states and countries that have been hit hardest by the crisis must be prioritized in the political guidelines and aid programs.
“Africa is facing a water disaster,” said Unicef program director Sanjay Wijesekera. Devastating storms, floods, and historic droughts destroyed facilities and homes. They contaminated water sources, caused hunger crises and spread diseases.
Armed conflicts further exacerbated the situation. In Burkina Faso, for example, attacks on water facilities have been reported to have increased for years. They are often sabotaged and deliberately polluted to drive people away. As a result, around 800,000 people – more than half of them children – lost access to clean drinking water last year.