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Healthy Start logoHealthy Start is WaterAid’s four-year campaign focused on improving the health and nutrition of newborn babies and children.

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.

159 million children around the world are stunted, their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development damaged irreversibly by 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 diarrhoea, 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 diarrhoea before the age of two. 88% of cases of diarrhoea are directly associated with inadequate WASH.

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.

Our Healthy Start campaign calls on governments and donors to recognise that access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is fundamental to ending malnutrition. 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 report ‘The Missing Ingredients: are policymakers doing enough on water, sanitation and hygiene to end malnutrition?' >

For more information about Healthy Start please contact