March 22 marks World Water Day. This is a day to acknowledge water as a basic human right and a life-saving necessity.

Today, around 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe water. Many children spend hours every day walking to collect water, sometimes missing out on the chance to go to school. This journey can be dangerous. For some, this daily routine to collect water can disrupt their lives. Children face the fear of being attacked and spend all day walking long distances and can miss out on the chance to go to school or to play with their friends.

By building essential infrastructure, as well as mobilizing and involving communities in the most remote areas of the world, UNICEF and its partners are working to provide clean and safe water to children, which is essential for them to survive and thrive.

Last year alone, UNICEF reached almost 34 million people living in humanitarian emergencies with safe water. 

children water point Burundi
In Burundi, children fill their cups at a water point built by UNICEF at Kanyosha III primary school in Bujumbura. [© UNICEF/UNI180029/Colfs]

The Importance of SAFE Water for Children

A girl washing her hand at a UNICEF water station
"I wash my hands so germs don't get on them," says 6-year-old Dareen, in Al Khader school, Jordan. [© UNICEF/UNI313299/Matas]


When children are not busy collecting water, they have time to go to school. When schools have clean water, toilets and soap for handwashing, children have a healthy learning environment, and girls are more likely to attend when they have their period.

Did you know? 80 per cent of the burden of fetching water is shouldered by women and girls. This often forces girls to miss school.

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A boy drinking clean water at the playground in Sayef High School in Faizabad, Afghanistan. [© UNICEF/UN0345552/Karimi]


Every day over 700 children under the age of 5 die from diseases related to unsafe water, sanitation and poor hygiene. Every child has the right to water that is safe and free from contaminants. When children are able to drink, bathe and wash their clothes in safe water, they have a better chance of growing up without disease.

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girl drinking water in Laos
In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, a girl smiles while drinking water at a water point in the village of Adone, Ta Oi District, Saravane Province. [© UNICEF/UNI182989/Noorani]


For at least 263 million people, it takes over 30 minutes per round trip to collect water. When kids have safe water near their home, they don't have to worry about the long and often dangerous journey to collect it. They have time to play with their friends and to be children. 

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Improves the lives of families and children by providing access to a safe drinking water source.

Children playing under a water tap in Nigeria
In Nigeria, children play under a water tap during recess at a UNICEF-supported primary school inside Bukasi Internally Displaced People's camp, in Maiduguri, Borno State. [© UNICEF/UN055929/Gilbertson VII Photo]