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Child health

Clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene are essential to long-term well-being.
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Without clean water, sanitation and hygiene, a child's development and general well-being is threatened.

The issue explained

One of the most obvious benefits of improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is better human health. Children benefit especially from improved WASH—and face the consequences of lack of WASH most severely. Every day thousands of children die from diseases associated with unsafe water and sanitation and poor hygiene and handwashing practices. Most are under the age of five, with diarrhea and pneumonia being the leading WASH-related causes of these deaths. Other diseases related to water and sanitation include parasitic infections, which can slow children’s growth and learning potential and contribute to under-nutrition; trachoma, which can lead to blindness; and the skin disease scabies. Furthermore, people who are already sick, particularly those suffering from chronic illnesses such as HIV, have greater water and sanitation needs than healthy people and may be more susceptible to the infections caused by unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions. For the millions of children suffering under-nutrition or living in food insecure areas around the world, improved WASH is essential to their long-term well-being. After all, it’s not just about how much food you take in, it’s also about whether your body absorbs the nutrients it contains.

Our approach

By focusing on health in our research, program and advocacy work, our efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene are better placed to transform the lives of those we reach. By linking our work to broader national and international efforts to improve health, we also help to draw attention to the importance of WASH in development. WaterAid is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, the movement for Universal Health Coverage, and the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child movement and Global Strategy.