“Africa is facing a water catastrophe. While climate and water-related shocks are escalating globally, nowhere else in the world do the risks compound as severely for children,” said UNICEF Director of Programs Sanjay Wijesekera.
The report revealed where children face the greatest danger, and where investment in solutions to prevent unnecessary deaths is desperately needed.
“Devastating storms, floods, and historic droughts are already destroying facilities and homes, contaminating water resources, creating hunger crises, and spreading disease. But as challenging as the current conditions are, without urgent action, the future could be much more bleak.”
The triple threat was found to be most acute in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Somalia, making West and Central Africa one of the world’s most water-insecure and climate-impacted regions, according to the analysis. Many of the worst-affected countries, particularly in the Sahel, are also facing instability and armed conflict, further aggravating children’s access to clean water and sanitation.
Across the 10 hotspots, nearly one-third of children do not have access to at least basic water at home, and two-thirds do not have basic sanitation services.
A quarter of children have no choice but to practice open defecation. Hand hygiene is also limited, with three-quarters of children unable to wash their hands because of lack of water and soap at home.
As a result, these countries also carry the heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate WASH, such as diarrhoeal diseases. For example, six of the 10 have faced cholera outbreaks over the past year. Globally, more than 1,000 children under five die every day from WASH-related diseases, with around two out of five concentrated in these 10 countries alone.