The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said no fewer than 768 million people worldwide lacked access to safe drinking water.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Geoffrey Njoku, Head, Media and External Relations, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
It quoted Ms. Jean Gough, Country Representative of UNICEF, as saying this was the leading cause of death among thousands of children.
The statement said 1,400 children whose ages are under five years died each day from causes linked to lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene globally.
“Most of these people without access are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums,” Gough said in the statement.
She said UNICEF estimates that no fewer than 1,400 children of under-five age die daily from diarrhoea and diseases linked to lack of safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.
It also cited the 2013 Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey published in 2013 by the National Bureau of Statistics, which showed that nearly 70 million Nigerians lacked access to safe water in 2011.
The statement placed Nigeria as the third country globally with most people without access to safe water.
Gough said over 1.9 million people in rural areas had gained access to safe water in its Water and Sanitation Hygiene Schools’ Programme, with support from the EU and UKAid.
This, the statement said, would strengthen capacities on appropriate choice of technology for water supply.
“UNICEF is bringing safe water to families living in some of the most under-served areas in over 20 states.
“Through appropriate technologies which do not rely on electricity and water facilities which are easy to operate and maintain, a greater number of disadvantaged people can be provided with safe water.
“Every child in Nigeria deserves access to safe water and, thereby, a chance to survive and thrive,’’ it said.
NAN reports that UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child.
Together with its partners, it works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children.