Over 170 collaborating organizations will meet to discuss issues around water and its impact on health, the environment, and poverty alleviation, at the annual World Water Week to be held in Stockholm from August 17 to 23.

This year's theme; Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World includes a special focus on sanitation and hygiene. 2008 is the International Year of Sanitation (IYS).

UNICEF will convene two seminars during the World Water Week, (i) The impact of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions on children, and (ii) The importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. Results of recently completed studies on impact and sustainability will be presented and discussed.

Children are among the most vulnerable to the consequences of the lack of access to clean water improved sanitation and hygiene. More than 5,000 children under five die every day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases, caused in part by unsafe water, lack of access to basic sanitation facilities and improved hygiene. Simple behavioural changes, such as hand washing with soap, can help reduce mortality rates related to diarrhoeal diseases by almost 50 per cent.

Global Handwashing Day, which will be celebrated this year on 15 October will provide an opportuntity to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. Global Handwashing Day is an initiative of the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW). More information about the Day can be found on their website at globalhandwashing/.

In addition to the health costs, the lack of adequate sanitation facilities in schools also has an impact on access to education, with girl's school attendance often falling off when they reach puberty where school sanitation facilities are inadequate.

Access to clean water and sanitation are fundamental to every aspect of children's lives - including their health, their survival and their dignity - and providing all children with clean drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene in schools would make an important contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

For further information on World Water Week


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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