Three Stories about How Clean Water Saves Kids' Lives

March 1, 2016

As the UNICEF TAP Project celebrates its tenth year, join us in providing clean water for children around the world.  It's as easy as not using your phone for just five minutes a day.

How long could you go without clean water?

UNICEF-dug well in rural Myanmar

In December 2014, UNICEF and its partners drilled a new well, deep enough to reach clean water for the entire village of Hnen Ser Kyin, Myanmar. © UNICEF.

No one can survive without water. Yet 663 million people worldwide do not have safe, clean water to drink. And 2.4 billion live without sufficient sanitation facilities. Globally, unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are leading causes of death for children under 5.

The UNICEF Tap Project celebrates its tenth year of making a difference.

Now celebrating its tenth year, the UNICEF Tap Project challenges supporters to drive awareness about global water issues and raises critical funds for UNICEF’S WASH programs. The goal: provide the world’s children with access to clean water, basic sanitation and information about good hygiene practices. 

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Click on the image above to view an interactive global map about UNICEF’s lifesaving work providing clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene. © UNICEF USA.

Since the UNICEF Tap Project began ten years ago, the number of children who die each day from waterborne illnesses has dropped from over 4,000 a day in 2006 to just under 1,000 a day in 2015.

You can help just by going without your smart phone for five minutes a day.

The UNICEF Tap Project offers participants an easy way to help. “For every five minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project sponsors and supporters provide the funding equivalent of a day of clean water,” explains UNICEF Tap Project Marketing Officer Caroline Dzeba.

How does clean water save kids' lives?

After UNICEF dug a new well for his Malawi village, Tamadani, 2, and his family are healthy.

After a UNICEF water project in his Malawi village, Tamdani, 2, has access to clean, safe drinking water

Tamdani, 2, drinks a glass of water from a well UNICEF drilled to bring clean water in his village in Malawi. © UNICEF USA.

Before UNICEF came to his village in Malawi, Tamadani, 2, his brother John, 8, his sister Kosalata, 12, and their mother Rhoda had to drink unsafe water from shallow wells.

As Rhoda explains: “The water was really bad. Sometimes, you could see the germs with your own eyes. We were supposed to add chemicals to clean it, but we were so poor, we couldn’t afford them. People were getting diarrhea, dysentery, and even cholera.”

After UNICEF dug a much deeper well in 2011 to reach clean water, Tamadani and his family were able to get 100 liters of safe water daily for bathing, cooking, drinking, and washing clothes and dishes. Now, in 2015, Rhoda says, “People don’t get sick because of the water [anymore].”

Life is much easier for Syrian refugee Esa, 2, and his family with a new UNICEF water tank near their tent.

After UNICEF located a water tank near his tent, Esa, 2, and his family's lives in the refugee camp in Iraq got a lot better

Syrian refugee Esa, 2, and his mother in a refugee camp in Iraq after UNICEF located a reliable water tank near their tent. © UNICEF USA.

After fleeing war-torn Syria, Esa, 2, lives in a tent in a refugee camp in Iraq with his mother and three siblings: Noor, 6, Robin, 13, and Ahmad, 13.

Once an hour, Esa’s older siblings had to walk a long way to the camp’s central water tank. They carried water back in plastic containers. Sometimes, families would disagree about how much water each person should get. Occasionally, no water was available in the afternoon. But a new UNICEF-installed water tank, located near their tent and filled every week, changed everything.

Esa’s mother says: “Before we had the tank, I couldn't wash clothes or bed sheets regularly. My children could only wash every three days. Now, they have more clean water to drink and they can wash every two days. I am also able to wash our clothes and sheets more frequently, which helps keep us all healthier."

A UNICEF pilot water project has changed the lives of Adjara, 12, her family, and her entire community in Burkina Faso

A UNICEF water project has changed the lives of Adjara, 12, her family, and her community in Burkina Faso

Adjara, 12, helps to pump water from a new UNICEF water point, part of a UNICEF pilot project for 4,000 people in Burkina Faso. © UNICEF USA.

Adjara, 12, the eldest of five children, recently started using a finished water point only a few feet away from her house, part of a larger UNICEF pilot project for about 4,000 people living in a remote, desolate region of Burkina Faso.

This pilot project not only brings clean, safe water to the community, but also employment. Three teams — each with four to five community members — have received training in manual drilling.

Fatouma, Adjara’s mother says: “The water tastes so much better now. You just can’t compare it. Because of the water from the old well, my children would get sick too often … You have given us our health back. This is a very special gift.”


Our celebration of the UNICEF Tap Project continues through March. Below, ten more stories for ten years of Tap. Click each photo to learn how clean, safe water has improved kids’ lives around the world. See more on Facebook, or on Instagram, or join the conversation on Twitter.

How can you help?

Follow UNICEF USA on Facebook all month for more stories about how clean, safe water and adequate sanitation can save and improve kids’ lives. At the UNICEF USA Instagram page, find photos showing the impact of safe water on children around the world. And join the conversation about this important issue on Twitter. 

Join us for the tenth year of the UNICEF Tap project and give clean water to children in need.