A safe and clean environment, for every child

South-South Cooperation on Water and Sanitation in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Countries

Children wash hands with soap at Zhongzhou Kindergarten of Zhong County in Chongqing, China on 4 June 2020.
UNICEF/UNI336263/Ma Yuyuan
16 November 2020

Every child should live in a safe and clean environment, yet about 297,000 children under the age of five (more than 800 per day) die every year from diarrheal diseases as a result of poor hygiene, sanitation or unsafe water. Poor hygiene and unsafe water are responsible for nearly 90 per cent of these deaths and mostly affect children.  In recent years, water shortage has also been a significant challenge in Central Asia.

UNICEF’s WASH programmes support children and their families in over 100 countries around the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially for the most vulnerable populations and underserved communities. On 28 October 2020, UNICEF and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute (CAREC Institute) held a webinar to discuss water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in CAREC countries.

Participants shared challenges and lessons learned. Topics discussed included policies and practices of water and sanitation, financing mechanisms, technology, accessibility of WASH services, the implications of climate change on water systems, and UNICEF’s WASH response during the COVID-19 pandemic. In attendance were representatives of governments and research institutions from China, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Also present were development partners such as such as ADB Central and West Asia Department, ADB PRC Fund, World Bank Beijing Office and UNDP Tajikistan.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are important vehicles for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources. During the discussion, participants called for more sustainable water and sanitation systems in CAREC countries, particularly in the context of climate change and increasing water scarcity. They also expressed the need for continued support from development partners in the water and sanitation sector.

“Here in China we [UNICEF] have seen the value of piloting water and sanitation best practices and then sharing results more widely. Partnership is key to address the challenges. Strengthened partnerships with and between countries and other global partners to leverage expertise, adaptable technologies and funding hold potential for accelerating progress.”

Dr. Douglas Noble, UNICEF China Deputy Representative

Next steps

UNICEF, CAREC Institute, and stakeholders are working on a research report under the theme of Development of Sustainable Water and Sanitation Systems in the CAREC region. The report will provide policy recommendations, workable solutions, and cooperation opportunities for government counterparts, various development agencies, and donor communities. The report is scheduled to be published in December 2020.