Date Published: 21 March 2009

World Water Day in Sudan focuses on shared responsibility for management of vital resources (UNICEF)

Health News from around the world.

The celebration of World Water Day 2009 in Sudan will provide an opportunity to focus on the importance of a shared responsibility for the management of vital resources, as the country strives to increase access to clean water and adequate sanitation.

With 44% of Sudan's population not having a safe source of drinking water, and almost 70% of the population lacking access to adequate sanitation, strengthened collaboration between different bodies is critical to accelerated progress towards ensuring every household is able to reach a source of clean water and sanitation.

Speaking in advance of a series of events planned to mark World Water Day on 22 March, UNICEF's Officer-in-Charge for Sudan Pierre Poupard noted that progress was being made to bring clean water and improved sanitation to thousands of Sudanese families every year.

"Last year alone, UNICEF was able to support the provision of new water supplies and re-establish former supplies, to over 1.3 million people across Sudan," said Pierre Poupard.

"That achievement came about through a critical partnership led by the Government of National Unity and the Government of Sudan, and made possible by the work of non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the invaluable support of international donors. No single body can achieve such results in such a short timeframe, and this is the sense of shared responsibility that we want to highlight on this year's World Water Day."

In the north of Sudan, the government Public Water Corporation and UNICEF are using World Water Day to encourage communities to place increased focus on the importance of better management of water supply and quality, as well as increasing access to sanitation. In particular, communities are seen as central to management of water resources, through playing a direct role in their protection, their maintenance and ensuring equitable access to all those who need to use them.

Communities are also seen as important advocates for hygiene education, essential to reduction of water-related diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. UNICEF estimates that on average more than one-quarter of children under the age of five in Sudan suffer from diarrhoeal disease in any given year – simple measures such as handwashing before preparing food and eating, of after using the latrine, and safe water storage can dramatically reduce these rates of illness.

"Provision of water and sanitation facilities are just two parts of the approach," explained Mr. Poupard.

"Hygiene education, promoted at the community level through health workers, school teachers, youth leaders and village hygiene committees, is the essential third ingredient to ensuring a healthier household."

Key events planned for World Water Day in Sudan include a street carnival in the city of Gedaref, in eastern Sudan, followed by a series of technical discussions to be held in the nearby rural village of Kunina – recognizing the importance of community leadership – at which government and other agencies will discuss issues of water management, water quality and improving sanitation.

In 2008, UNICEF committed nearly US$ 40 million in water, sanitation and hygiene programmes through its agreements with the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, with a similar budget for 2009. Major donors to water, sanitation and hygiene activities include the European Commission, the World Bank, The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) and the governments of Belgium, Japan and the United States (OFDA).

South Sudan, South-Sudan

Source(s): UNICEF

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