Where there is a lack of safe water and sanitation, it is children who suffer most. Their health, well-being and education are all affected.
The daily task of collecting water, as well as the constant search for privacy to go to the toilet, dominates the lives of many children, especially girls. This leaves them with less time or energy to go to school, rest or play. Girls as young as 10 may be responsible for fetching the family's water.
The weight of the water container can cause damage to the head, neck and spine, and the distances walked mean that children may miss out entirely on their education.
Of the children who are able to find the time to go to school, the lack of decent toilets once they get there tends to prevent girls from attending school, especially during puberty. Around 60% of the children currently not enrolled in school worldwide are girls. (UNESCO (2000), Educational For All 2000 Assessment, Statistical Document, World Education Forum, UNESCO, Paris)
Furthermore, kids are most vulnerable to the diseases that result from dirty water and poor sanitation. In developing countries, each child has an average of ten attacks of diarrhoea before the age of five.
A lack of water also means that children cannot wash often enough and, as a result, suffer from diseases like scabies and eye infections such as trachoma.
As children are generally more vulnerable to the effects of not having safe water and sanitation, we seek to include their needs alongside those of adults.
For example, in India we have developed open air, brightly-painted child-friendly toilets. In communities, we seek to improve water and especially toilet facilities at schools as well as homes and workplaces, so that teenage girls can feel confident again about going to school.
Where it's appropriate, children are taught to help maintain pumps or tapstands by using them properly and keeping the surrounding area clean.
We promote good hygiene through child-friendly activities such as puppet shows and plays, and we help establish school hygiene clubs that empower pupils to pass on good hygiene messages to their friends and families, through games and songs. Children are quick to learn and can act as fantastic ambassadors for good hygiene within their families.
Providing children with clean and accessible water and toilet facilities changes their lives. Their health improves, they have more time to go to school and gain an education, as well as more time to just be kids and play with their friends.
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Financing | Governance | Health | Hygiene | Social exclusion | Sustainability | Urban | Women