UNICEF & the International Decade for Clean Drinking Water, 1981-1990


There are 1.8 thousand million people living in the rural areas of developing countries. Only one person in five has access to clean water.

590 million (41%) of the children under 15 years old do not have clean water.

In the developing countries one hospital patient in four suffers from an illness caused by polluted water.

UNICEF is engaged in promoting drinking water supplies as part of the basic services of 97 countries. Drills, hand pumps, tools, pipes, vehicles etc., are supplied for the construction of technically simple systems. Material support is reinforced by training instructors, well-attendants and auxiliary health workers to ensure that the installations are properly maintained and the greatest possib1e benefit can be obtained from the improved hygienic conditions.

In 1983 UNICEF helped bring some 12.9 million people their first regular supplies of clean drinking water; but there is still a great deal to be done. Every day is vital.

Daily, millions of women and children have the chore of fetching water, taking up to half a day and using energy which would have been better spent on education, training, or simple survival. Even then, the water may not be clean, yet contaminated water means sickness and death.

The 1977 United Nations ‘Water Conference’ at Mar del Plata set up an International Drinking Water Decade, 1981-1990. Its aim is to make access to clean drinking water available across the world. UNICEF is in the forefront of this campaign. For further details, or to send donations, write to; The UK Committee for UNICEF, 55 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3NB.

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