Facts and Figures

Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources

  • Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Such improvements reduce child mortality and improve health and nutritional status in a sustainable way. 
  • In 2000 diarrhea accounted for 17% of the 10.6 million deaths in children younger than five, and malaria for 8%. Some 1.4 million children die each year from preventable diarrheal diseases. Ordinary diarrhea remains the major killer among water-, sanitation- and hygiene-related diseases, contributing to 43% of deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected regions. 
  • Undernutrition is an underlying cause of 53% of all deaths in children younger than five. Malnutrition accounts for about a third of the disease burden in low- and middle income countries. Lack of access to adequate, safe food, partly related to water resources management, is one cause of malnutrition, but up to 50% of malnutrition is related to repeated diarrhea or intestinal nematode infections as a result of unclean water, inadequate sanitation or poor hygiene.
  • Of the estimated 350-500 million clinical disease episodes occurring annually, around 60% are in sub-Saharan Africa, as are 80% of the deaths. Most of the more than 1 million Africans who die from malaria each year are children under age five. How much malaria could be eliminated by managing the environment – by eliminating stagnant water bodies, modifying reservoir contours, introducing drainage or improving irrigation management – differs across regions with variations in vector habitats, with a global average of 42%.

Related themes: Water, Sanitation and HealthAgriculture and Food

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