UNICEF Advocates WASH Investment for Children in Conflict Zones
UN Photo/Martine Perret
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The report presents a framework for WASH sector resilience that proposes actions plotted along a conflict continuum.

Several case studies are presented, describing successes as well as challenges that hampered implementation of WASH initiatives in conflict settings.

The authors conclude that WASH services themselves could serve as a platform for addressing fragility and conflict.

3 October 2019: In its report ‘Water Under Fire,’ the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls for the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in fragile and conflict-affected areas. The report highlights that civilian deaths in armed conflicts doubled between 2010 and 2016, and that many of these deaths occurred as a result of unmet needs, including access to safe drinking water. The report links WASH in the 2030 Agenda, especially SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, with other UN policy frameworks, namely, the UN ‘Sustaining Peace Agenda’ and the ‘Agenda for Humanity’ that was adopted at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.

The report titled, Water Under Fire: Emergencies, development and peace in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, highlights the needs of 420 million children who lack access to basic sanitation, and 210 million who lack access to safe drinking water. The report presents a framework for WASH sector resilience that proposes actions plotted along a conflict continuum, from latent to acute and protracted conflict, through to post-conflict and recovery stages. The WASH agenda, in such contexts, includes early investment to prevent the decline and collapse of the WASH sector, actions to protect long-term water security, and adoption of renewable energy solutions that can continue to power water and sanitation systems during conflict. 

420 million children lack access to basic sanitation, and 210 million lack access to safe drinking water.

Several case studies are presented, including actions to: prevent the spread of cholera in Haiti through agency coordination and focused WASH interventions in cholera hotspots; raising of blended finance from public and private lenders to upgrade water supply systems in Somaliland; and the use of renewable energy to power wastewater treatment in Jordan. The case studies do not provide an unbroken record of success, however, describing barriers and unforeseen circumstances that hampered implementation at different stages.

The authors draw attention to the huge amount of capital investment that would be needed to achieve SDG 6 – US$114 billion a year – of which US$60 billion is needed for fragile contexts, and for which insufficient public funds have been raised. They conclude that innovative financing mechanisms and creative partnerships will be needed to attract the necessary funding and financing, and that WASH services themselves could serve as a platform for addressing fragility and conflict. [UNICEF Press Release

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