Strategy for water, sanitation and hygiene 2016-2030

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UNICEF, new york
Children need WASH – water, sanitation and hygiene – to survive and thrive. This is true in times of stability and crisis, in urban and rural communities, and in every country around the world. WASH is important in its own right, and is also necessary for health, nutrition, education and other outcomes for children. Girls and women are particularly affected by poor WASH, as are people living with disabilities. A great deal has been achieved over the past 25 years towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Billions have gained access to water and sanitation, and hygiene practices are improving. But much remains to be done. In 2016 one billion people still practice open defecation and over 600 million do not have access to even a basic level of drinking water. And there are new and emerging challenges that require us to change the way we work. It is the poorest who are most often denied access: more and more of the world’s poor live in urban slums, and climate change threatens water resources. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious vision to achieve universal access to “safely managed” water and sanitation (including hygiene): defining a higher level of service, whilst prioritising the poorest and most vulnerable. The purpose of this new Strategy for WASH is to guide UNICEF’s organization-wide contribution to achieving SDG 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. It is designed to inform and support UNICEF’s core planning and strategy processes, and to guide the implementation of our programmes. It defines the principles to be applied to all our work and a menu of approaches and results areas to be tailored to each country’s context, with links to guidance documents that provide further detail on implementation. We will maintain our focus on helping every child gain access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, including in schools and health centres, and in humanitarian situations when children are most vulnerable. The Strategy signals increased engagement in “newer” areas such as adapting to climate change; services in small towns and informal settlements (urban); and engaging the private sector as a key partner beyond their traditional role of providing goods and services. It shows how WASH can contribute to key outcomes across the life-course of a child, and how education and health systems can help deliver wider public health outcomes in WASH. UNICEF will support governments to ensure every child has at least a basic level of service while addressing inequalities and quality issues that are important to sustain the gains that have been made over the past 20 years. The SDG targets for water, sanitation and hygiene present a significant challenge over the coming 15 years. The SDGs move well beyond the MDG targets and aim for universal coverage. The SDGs also set a higher level of ambition, described as “safely managed” water and sanitation, whilst emphasizing the need to address inequalities. In response to this, the Strategy provides a set of criteria – the Core Accountabilities – that commit us to act where children do not even have a basic level of service. The Strategy also provides guidance on what types of interventions should be applied in different contexts. The Strategy was informed by a review of UNICEF’s WASH evaluations over the last ten years, a review of the evidence on WASH and children, and an extensive consultative process involving over 500 UNICEF staff and external partners. With this new tool to guide us, we look forward to working with all partners on the global agenda of WASH for all.