New York ( September 13, 2012 – A new report released today by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, shows that the number of under-five deaths worldwide has declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011. ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality’ is based on estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation and highlights enormous global progress in ending preventable child deaths worldwide. Yet, much more is required to bring these numbers to zero, chief among which is ensuring universal access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene promotion among the world’s poorest people and communities.

Dr. David Winder, CEO of WaterAid in America, speaking about the new UNICEF ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality’ Report stated:

"There is ample evidence to support the critical role of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in helping to save seven million young children who are currently dying every year from entirely preventable causes. In fact, WASH is closely linked to three leading killers of children—pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and malaria—and to under-nutrition, to which more than one-third of under-five deaths is attributed. Without improved sanitation, hygiene and water resource management, we will not make sufficient headway in providing all children with the health and opportunities they deserve.

This is one of many reasons that WaterAid is a proud partner of A Promise Renewed, a global partnership led by UNICEF and the Governments of the United States, Ethiopia and India, which aims to align the global community around a commitment to end preventable child deaths through a series of high-impact interventions, including WASH. Yet, this critically important effort will not succeed without significantly increased resources from all stakeholders and improved targeting of funds to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable are being reached.”

The report shows that 11% of childhood deaths (759,000 per year / 2,079 per day) are attributable to diarrheal diseases, of which 88% (according to the WHO) can be directly attributed to a lack of clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene promotion. Additionally, a full 50% of global malnutrition is attributed to lack of access to high quality safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, showing how critical WASH is as a foundation to health.

The latest access figures (for 2010) show that 2.5 billion people (around 1 in 3 of the world’s population) still lack access to sanitation, while 783 million people (around 1 in 10 of the world’s population) still lack access to clean drinking water.

In order to redress these gaps in basic dignity and human rights and contribute to ending preventable childhood deaths, WaterAid calls on the United States Congress to provide $400 million for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, as approved for Fiscal Year 2013 by the Senate Appropriations Committee; and to urgently pass the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (H.R. 3658 and S. 641) in order to ensure that US agencies are focused on spending existing resources most effectively and increasing transparency in how they prioritize WASH interventions around the world, without spending any new money.


For further information or interview requests, please contact Susannah Gold or +1 917 207 5375

  • Embargoed copies of the new UNICEF ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality’ Report are available from the UNICEF media team, or via email from WaterAid.
  • Details as to the levels of water and sanitation access across the globe can be accessed
  • WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Over the past 30 years, WaterAid has reached 15.9 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 11 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit, follow @wateraid on Twitter or visit us on Facebook at WaterAidAmerica.
  • Further information on A Promise Renewed and evidence-based analysis of the highest-impact interventions to prevent under-five mortality rates is available at A list of signatories to a non- governmental organization pledge to support and advance the objectives and approaches of A Promise Renewed are also available, in addition to a government pledge that has been signed by almost half of the world’s governments.
  • The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (H.R 3658 and S. 641) is a bipartisan initiative led by Congressmen Judge Ted Poe (R-TX) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). Its objectives are to improve the efficiency of existing US investments in safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene; to increase transparency of investments and analysis of greatest impact; to enhance coordination across US foreign policy objectives; and to build US and global capacity to implement best-practice WASH programs—all without increasing the funds required.
  • 783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is around 1 in 10 people worldwide.
  • 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation. This is around 1 in 3 people worldwide.
  • An estimated 5-6% of Gross Domestic Product in countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is lost each year due to lack of access to WASH.
  • For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, $8 is returned in increased economic productivity and reduced health care costs.
  • Just $25 can enable one person to access safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.


Source: The WaterAid Salutes the 2012 UNICEF ‘Levels & Trends in Child Mortality’ Report(Sharewell