This document outlines UNICEF's activities in those areas which are of key importance to their overall mission, against the overall perspective of the global challenges in water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and child survival and development. It gives examples drawn from their work in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And it examines how UNICEF is preparing for new challenges by building appropriate humans resources, leveraging partnerships and providing leadership within and beyond the United Nations on water, sanitation and hygiene.
- Since 1990, 1.6 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water and 1.1 billion have gained access to improved sanitation facilities.
- More than 2.5 billion people, or 38% of the world's population, lack adequate sanitation facilities.
- Almost one billion people still use unsafe drinking water sources.
- In 2006, 82% of the world, compared to 76% of the world in 1990, used sanitation facilities rather than having to defecate in the open.
- Achieving the MDG targets for water supply and sanitation would result in 272 million school-attendance days gained each year due to improved health.
- Handwashing by birth attendants before delivery has been shown to reduce mortality rates by 19%, while a 44% reduction in risk of death was found if mothers washed their hands prior to handling their newborns.
- Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by 44%.
- Sustainability of community water supplies remains a major challenge. In some countries breakdown rates often exceed 50%.
- Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to dropping out as many are reluctant to continue their schooling because toilet and washing facilities are not private, not safe or simply not available. When schools have adequate facilities -- in particular ones that facilitate menstrual hygiene -- a major obstacle to attendance is removed.