Water borne diseases among children can be controlled by adopting improved WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) practices. Scarcity of potable water and low-availability or lack of drinking water supply make life of families difficult and often exposes the women and children to several health risks. Lack of water also prevents children from adopting safe hygiene practices.
According to a recent UNICEF report, over 2 crore children in India are facing extremely high water vulnerability. High water vulnerability is a combination of the highest levels of physical water scarcity and lowest availability of drinking water, according to the UNICEF report. In India, 20,478,554 children faced extremely high water vulnerability while 91,413,134 experienced high water vulnerability, as per the report released in March 2021.
The lack of water and WASH services exposes children to waterborne diseases including diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, scabies and worm infections. Even for girls the situation becomes worse as traditionally in India fetching water is seen as the duty of the women. In water scarce areas girls often accompany their mothers or other women of the family who walk long distances to fetch water. This forces the girls to skip their studies. The shortage of water also impacts student enrolment, attendance and performance in schools, particularly among girls.
The scarcity of water also limits the access to safe drinking water and practicing basic hygiene at home, schools and in healthcare facilities. Lack of safe water also affects the growth of children as it results in malnutrition and stunting. According to recent data from the Women and Child Development Ministry, over 33 lakh children were said to be malnourished and over half of them fall in the severely malnourished category. Water contamination and lack of safe drinking water is a major cause behind malnourishment among children.
The Centre has significantly improved the access to drinking water in rural areas under the Jal Jeevan Mission. Over 9 crore of the total 19.33 crore rural households have been provided with piped water connections. According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, every rural household has tap water supply in Goa, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Haryana.
This significant development and the focus on providing safe drinking water for families, especially those belonging to marginalised sections of society, can bring down many diseases among children while ensuring their right health and education.
Mission Paani, an initiative by News 18 and Harpic India, advocates access to water for all. The campaign aims to amplify all efforts towards sustainable sanitation and hygiene practices. Mission Paani creates awareness towards the efforts to ensure availability of water to everyone.
You can be part of this revolution too and join the Mission Paani initiative.
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