"Water Under Fire": Children Might Survive The Bullets, Die From Unsafe Water, Poor Sanitation, Hygiene

24 Mar 2019 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
NEW YORK NY, United States

In protracted conflicts children younger than 15 are, on average, nearly three times more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe water and sanitation than violence directly linked to conflict and war, according to a March 2019 UNICEF advocacy alert.

For younger children, the impact of unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene is greater: Children under 5 are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe water and sanitation than violence in conflict.

In these conflicts – and other emergencies – providing rapid, comprehensive and safe water and sanitation is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, emergency responses are too often under-resourced, dependent on underdeveloped water and sanitation systems and incapable of addressing complex needs.

In "Water under Fire: For every child, water and sanitation in complex emergencies", released on World Water Day 2019, UNICEF identifies that safe drinking water and sanitation is as critical to the survival of children as food, medical care, and protection from attack. UNICEF points out that in case-study crises such as Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, Ukraine, and Yemen conflicts have been protracted and have affected the consistent delivery of clean water.

“The odds are already stacked against children living through prolonged conflicts – with many unable to reach a safe water source,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The reality is that there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets."

UNICEF calls for three major changes:

  • Stop attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel. The intentional denial of services and deliberate attacks on water, sanitation, and power supplies is a violation of international humanitarian law.
  • Build a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector capable of consistently providing high-quality water and sanitation services in emergencies. The WASH sector needs to build technical, operational and personnel capacity to address increasingly complex and protracted crises.
  • Link life-saving humanitarian responses to the development of sustainable water and sanitation systems for all. Develop systems that can ensure safe water and sanitation and prevent disease.

The report further demands that humanitarian and development organizations collaborate from the start to establish systems that will remain resilient.