Children's environmental health

Lack of water and inadequate sanitation

child playing in water

A child’s well-being is highly dependent on both the quality and the availability of water, and on how well this precious resource is managed. Around the world, both biological disease agents and chemical pollutants are compromising drinking-water quality. Contaminated water causes a range of diseases which are often life-threatening. Of the waterborne diseases affecting children, the most deadly are diarrhoeal infections. Childhood diarrhoea is closely associated with insufficient water supply, inadequate sanitation, water contaminated with communicable disease agents, and poor hygiene practices.

In 2015, 526 000 deaths of children under five were attributable to diarrhoea. This is a significant improvement from the 1.2 million diarrhoeal child deaths under five in 2000, due in part to improvements in WASH, along with better case management.