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  • Children fill jerrycans with water they purchase from a private water vendor who manages the tap of the water kiosk in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, 10 Dec. 2003.

    Children fill jerrycans with water they purchase from a private water vendor who manages the tap of the water kiosk in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, 10 Dec. 2003. | Photo: AFP

Published 17 December 2015

According to UNICEF hundreds of lives could be saved simply by providing soap.

​About 500 children in Africa south of the Sahara die each day from diseases borne in filthy water, experts revealed, a number that could be drastically reduced with simple steps.

UNICEF announced to a conference in Dakar, Senegal, that diarrheal sickness in kids became fatal over the lack of access to clean drinking water, proper sanitation, and hygiene.

The international children’s agency told the investment banks, international organizations and businesses attending the summit aiming to seek ways to raise funds to curtail the fatalities, that US$30 billion per year was needed to provide sanitation and clean water to Central and West Africa.

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“It cannot be business as usual,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, said in a statement. “The pace of progress has to speed up exponentially -- and it’s going to take strong policies; robust financing; and a major shift in priorities among those who have the power to act.”

UNICEF has set a goal of 2030 to bring access to affordable and universal sanitation and clean water.

Yet without swift action, UNICEF warned, the crisis could get even worse over the next 20 years, as growing populations outpace government efforts to provide essential services.

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Participants in the summit are therefore hoping to find a sustainable financial model to bring about the necessary programs. Methods they are exploring include a microfinance facility to give loans to suppliers to bring wells to villages, and a credit fund to promote investment in developing countries by small- and medium-sized companies.

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