The race to end malnutrition requires clean water and sanitation

The race to end malnutrition requires clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene, Water Aid said today, calling for action as world leaders meet in Rio to open the Olympic Games Water Aid’s new report, ‘Caught Short’, looks at stunting from malnutrition around the world and the links to low rates of access to clean water and good sanitation.

The race to end malnutrition requires clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene, Water Aid said today, calling for action as world leaders meet in Rio to open the Olympic Games Water Aid’s new report, ‘Caught Short’, looks at stunting from malnutrition around the world and the links to low rates of access to clean water and good sanitation.

Currently 159 million children in the world are stunted as a result of malnutrition, their cognitive and physical growth damaged irreversibly by their inability to obtain and absorb the nutrients they need. Some 50% of malnutrition is linked to infections, worm infestations and diarrhoeal illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and a lack of hygiene including hand washing with soap.

In Rwanda 38% of children underfive are suffering from stunted growth. Some 24% of the population does not have access to clean water and 38.4% are without access to sanitation.

Water Aid’s Country Manager in Rwanda, Maurice Kwizera, said: “The evidence is clear: children’s health and future potential are compromised when they have no choice but to grow up without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene practices. Even if children survive their dangerous early years, repeated bouts of diarrhoea early in life are likely to leave them stunted, leaving Rwanda and Africa as a whole deprived of a new generation of great leaders, thinkers and athletes. World leaders have promised to end malnutrition and deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030. They must keep their promises – one cannot be met without the other.

Ahead of the Olympics, leaders and prominent current and former Olympians will meet in Rio on 4 August to bring attention to the importance of good nutrition.

What is Water Aid?

Water Aid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.  The international organisation works in 37 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.  Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation.  For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s nearly 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
  • Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water
  • Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation
  • For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
  • Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.