Thirsting for a Future
Water and children in a changing climate
| UNICEF | 2017
According to the report, 36 countries are currently facing extremely high levels of water stress, which occurs when demand for water far exceeds the renewable supply available. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased floods, droughts and melting ice affect the quality and availability of water as well as sanitation systems.
Population growth, increased water consumption, and higher demand for water largely due to industrialization and urbanization are draining water resources worldwide. Conflicts in many parts of the world also threaten children’s access to safe water.
All of these factors force children to use unsafe water, which exposes them to potentially deadly diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. Many children in drought-affected areas spend hours every day collecting water, missing out on a chance to go to school. Girls are especially vulnerable to attack during these times.
The poorest and most vulnerable children will be most impacted by an increase in water stress, the report says, as millions of them already live in areas with low access to safe water and sanitation.
The report also notes that:
- Up to 663 million people globally do not have access to adequate water sources and 946 million people practice open defecation.
- Over 800 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoea linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene;
- Globally, women and girls spend 200 million hours collecting water every day.
The impact of climate change on water sources is not inevitable, UNICEF says. The report concludes with a series of recommendations that can help curb the impact of climate change on the lives of children.