Over 2 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, and 4.2 billion are without sanitation services. The changing climate is destroying, drying up and contaminating water sources — leaving hundreds of millions of children vulnerable.
Such is the case in Southern Madagascar, where water shortages due to prolonged drought are particularly acute, and many families have long struggled to get by. Lack of safe water also increases the risk of disease. Globally, about 700 children die every day from diarrhea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.
So when the taps recently turned on for 40,000 people in the region, there was reason to celebrate — the result of a two-year collaboration between UNICEF and the Government of Madagascar to enable household access in village communities where fetching water from faraway or from unsafe sources had become commonplace.
The recently completed project entailed upgrading existing infrastructure: extending a pipeline to reach nearly two dozen new community access points, and setting up a water treatment plant, boreholes and pumping stations.
"So long to the chocolate-colored water from before," a man named Beamby from Marovato village told UNICEF Madagascar's Fanjaniaina Saholiarisoa Alida, who reports on the project's local impact here.
UNICEF also works with corporate partners to bring safe water, sanitation and hygiene to communities that have long had to do without. S'well, a re-usable bottle company, has committed $1.4 million since 2017 to help UNICEF extend its WASH programming in Madagascar to even more families and children.
Together, UNICEF and its partners are looking for innovative ways to remove the barriers that restrict children's access to safe water. In many conflicts around the world, more children die from diseases linked to unsafe water and sanitation than from direct violence. UNICEF is seeking to change that by developing water, sanitation and hygiene systems that can withstand conflicts and crises and be sustainably managed. The goal is to remove the threats unsafe water can pose and accelerate progress toward universal access, prioritizing those most in need.
Learn more about the importance of developing sustainable water and sanitation systems for all at unicef.org.
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For over 70 years, UNICEF has been putting children first, working to protect their rights and provide the assistance and services they need to survive and thrive. With a presence in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world.
Top photo: Reason to celebrate: a new pipeline delivers safe drinking water to over 40,000 people in Southern Madagascar, a region that has long suffered from acute water shortages. © UNICEF/UN0267014/Raoelison