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Climate change and lack of sanitation threaten water safety for millions: UNICEF

Climate change and lack of sanitation threaten water safety for millions: UNICEF

Freetown, 21 March 2016 – On the eve of World Water Day, UNICEF said the push to bring safe water to millions around the world is going to be even more challenging due to climate change, which threatens both water supply and water safety for millions of children living in drought- or flood-prone areas.   The effects of climate change are felt through water (or the absence of it) – floods, storms and droughts. Water supplies which are destroyed or contaminated put the lives of millions of children at risk; without clean water, children are at risk of diseases such as diarrhea, which already kills more than 800 children under five every day.   “Water and sanitation in Sierra Leone needs to be at the forefront of development because it touches on so many critical aspects of life, from staying alive, to keeping in good health, the rights of children and women, and livelihoods,” said UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone, Geoff Wiffin.

This year’s World Water Day will be marked by activities in Bo with the Ministry of Water Resources and other WASH sector partners.   Across the country only 63 per cent of the population have access to improved drinking water sources, and only 13 per cent of Sierra Leoneans have access to adequate sanitation facilities. The recently-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Alongside donors such as DfID, the Dutch Government, the European Union, Irish Aid, USAID and others, UNICEF are working with the Government on the two year post-Ebola recovery plan. Key to that will be ensuring water, sanitation and hygiene are delivered together as a package.

  According to UNICEF, most vulnerable are the nearly 160 million children under 5 years old globally who live in areas at high risk of drought. Around half a billion live in flood zones. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia.

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