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4000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.

Walks for Water and Sanitation across the globe on and around World Water Day!

Over 360,000 people are walking this week to demand governments take action to end the water and sanitation crisis.

Zambia walk
Walking in Zambia on Tuesday!

People have been walking in over 60 countries from Bangladesh to Benin, Nigeria to Norway and Mozambique to Malaysia this week. They are walking in solidarity with the millions of people – overwhelmingly women and children - who walk great distances each day to collect water for their basic needs and the billions who have no safe place to go to the toilet.

Walking around the world

Walkers have been calling on governments to put an end to the water and sanitation crisis that kills one child under five every twenty seconds, 4,000 every day. They have been walking to demand that politicians take action to tackle preventable diarrhoeal diseases that are the biggest killer of children in Africa, taking more young lives than HIV/AIDs, malaria and measles combined.

Details of some of the walks include:

  • In Belgium, an incredible 21,270 school children have walked a combined total of 133,151km on World Water Day, that’s over a third of the distance from the Earth to the moon!
  • The entire Cirque de Soleil cast are walking through Las Vegas in their costumes.
  • 30 energetic walkers in London are currently training to walk the 20 miles from one side of the city to the other on Saturday
  • Over 10,000 people walked in Nigeria whilst 40,000 were expected to walk in Madagascar yesterday, both countries directly affected directly by the water and sanitation crisis.
  • In Kannungu in Uganda, walkers met with the Minister of Water and Environment, and officials from the Ministry of Health to tell them it’s time for action.

At crisis point

Edith Veromaminiaina, Research Officer at WaterAid in Madagascar, described the extent of the crisis:

“70% of the Malagasy people live in rural areas, where the access to drinking water is less than 34%. In many places, children set off on their walk to collect water late at night and don’t arrive home until the next morning. They have a sleepless night and walk very far but still only draw dirty water. This is why we are taking part in The World Walks for Water and Sanitation.”

Jennifer Williams, coordinator of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation campaign added,“Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation mean children are missing school and are dying needlessly from disease caused by contaminated water. Ending this crisis would increase school attendance, help break the poverty cycle and, most importantly, save lives.”

Demanding that world leaders take action

This year, the timing of the World Walks for Water and Sanitation is crucial. It comes almost exactly a month before leaders from across the world gather in Washington D.C. at a vital meeting on the 20th of April to discuss what they are going to do to get taps and toilets to the world’s poorest communities.

This High-Level Meeting, organised by the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, is a huge opportunity for real change but it won’t work unless Development and Finance Ministers give it the attention it deserves.

Participants in the World Walks for Water and Sanitation event have sent a clear message to politicians that they cannot ignore the water and sanitation crisis any longer. They have demanded that leaders commit to attending this meeting and prepare to make strong commitments for action.

Mubu Kalaluka, Project Manager at ROCS in Zambia, insisted that water and sanitation must be a political priority. "In Zambia, the key messages for the Government will be that the status quo is not acceptable and the Government needs to do more to ensure access to water and sanitation."

Jon Lane, Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) stresses that it is important that governments understand that sanitation and water are clever investments. “Investing in sanitation, one of the most off-track Millennium Development Goals, generates a 1 to 9 return. It is difficult to imagine any business person passing on the chance to make such a profit; yet this is just what is happening today.”

For more information, do take a look at the website or contact Jennifer Williams on jenniferwilliams@endwaterpoverty.org.