One in 4 children globally will live in areas of extremely high water stress by 2040

ISLAMABAD :United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is in process of launching Water Security for All initiative, aimed at ensuring every child has an access to sustainable and climate-resilient water services, revealed by UNICEF analysis report issued on Thursday.

The other objective of this Initiative is to mobilize resources, partnerships, innovation and global response to identified hotspots where the need for safe, resilient and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services is the greatest and most urgent.

The UNICEF revealed that more than 1.42 billion people including 450 million children across the world live in areas of high, or extremely high, water vulnerability. This means that 1 in 5 children worldwide do not have enough water to meet their everyday needs.

The new released analysis – part of Water Security for All initiative – identifies areas where physical water scarcity risks overlap with poor water service levels.

As per details, communities living in these areas depend on surface water, unimproved sources, or water which can take more than 30 minutes to collect. “The world’s water crisis is not simply coming, it is here, and climate change will only make it worse. Children are the biggest victims,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

According to UNICEF, when wells dry-up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water while when droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. Similarly, when floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses and when water resources decline, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases.

The analysis showed that children in more than 80 countries live in areas with high or extremely high water vulnerability. Eastern and Southern Africa has the highest proportion of children living in such areas, with more than half of children – 58 per cent – facing difficulty accessing sufficient water every day. It is followed by West and Central Africa (31 per cent), South Asia (25 per cent), and the Middle East (23 per cent).

South Asia is home to the largest number of children living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – more than 155 million children.

Children in 37 ‘hotpot countries face especially dire circumstances in terms of absolute numbers, the proportions of children affected, and where global resources support and urgent action must be mobilized. This list includes Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.

In addition to rapid population growth, urbanization, water misuse and mismanagement, climate change and extreme weather events also reduce available quantities of safe water, exacerbating water stress. According to UNICEF previous report, almost 1 in 4 children globally will live in areas of extremely high water stress by 2040.

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