For every child – Water, sanitation and hygiene

For thirteen year old Aysha, it’s a task that takes up eight hours of her every waking day. Early each morning, she ties several plastic jerry cans to the back of a camel and heads off into the searing heat to look for water. Her journey, across one of the remoter corners of Ethiopia, takes her to a muddied stream where she pauses to wash and take a sip of the murky water, before filling her jerry cans and beginning the long trek home.

Aysha’s daily chores don’t end there. On her return home, she must help with the washing, cleaning and preparing of meals before nightfall. In Aysha’s life, there is no room for an education. Her entire life is shaped by her family’s inability to access safe water – to drink, for washing, for hygiene. This is simply not right.

There is enough clean water on the planet for everyone, yet every day, millions of children like Aysha go without. Millions more live without toilets, and are at risk of disease.

There has never been a more urgent time to advocate #ForEveryChild - the right to water, sanitation and hygiene.

WHO/UNICEF have just released the most extensive and detailed global analysis of the status of water, sanitation and hygiene ever published. It underlines the need for faster progress in meeting goals that ensure children and their families have access to safe water, proper sanitation and good hygiene. The report highlights a number of troubling facts;

· Around the world, 2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home and more than twice as many lack safe sanitation.

· 844 million people, that’s nearly 1 in 9 people, still lack basic water services – in other words, a drinking water source that is accessible within a 30 minute round trip from their home.

· Over 892 million people practice open defecation, meaning they go out on the side of the road, in fields or bushes

Recent years have seen progress in many countries in tackling these issues, but they must now consider how to finish the job. Countries with large numbers of people below the threshold of basic services need to consider how they will quicken the pace towards meeting their goals. There’s an urgency to ensure everyone has access to at least a basic level of service.

For Aysha and her family, better access to basic water services, like a borehole or a communal toilet, would change their lives. But basic services are not enough. Instead, communities should have safely managed services where drinking water is safe to drink and human waste is disposed of safely.

This is crucial- not just because it is the right thing to do, but because that is the only way we will make fast enough progress.

This report provides much more than an update on the progress the world is making towards the SDGs related to water, sanitation and hygiene. It reveals one of the most important challenges the world faces in order to create a brighter future for every child.

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