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It is estimated that 50% of undernutrition is linked to infections caused by unsafe water.
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We believe that this is unacceptable.

The issue explained

159 million children around the world are stunted due to a lack of vital nutrients in their first thousand days from conception to age two.

Yet, considering the number of people who live without access to clean, safe water, without soap for handwashing, or without a proper toilet, the scale of the malnutrition crisis is far from surprising.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 50% of undernutrition is linked to chronic diarrhea, intestinal worms and other infections caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.
  • Approximately 25% of all stunting can be attributed to five or more episodes of diarrhea before the age of two. 88% of cases of diarrhea are directly associated with inadequate WASH.
  • Malnutrition is a global crisis which undermines efforts to expand access to quality education, punishes the most vulnerable the most, and every year reduces GDP by 11% across Africa and Asia.

Our approach

The new Global Goals for Sustainable Development commit countries to ending malnutrition and achieving universal access to water, sanitation and good hygiene by 2030. Urgent joint action is needed now if these goals are to be met.

WASH needs to be integrated into national nutrition strategies and plans, with joint multi-sector action, and increased domestic and international funding for WASH as a key ‘nutrition-sensitive’ intervention. Find out more in our briefing Undernutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene