For children, clean water means everything. It means staying healthy from diseases. It means having enough food to eat. It means the opportunity to go to school and improve their futures. Water, for children, means life.

However, according to a 2021 analysis by UNICEF, more than 1.42 billion people around the world, including 450 million children, live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability. These are areas where physical water scarcity overlaps with poor water service levels, leaving the communities there to depend on surface water, unimproved sources or water that takes more than 30 minutes to collect. In other words, 1 in 5 children doesn’t have enough water for their daily needs, including drinking and practicing basic hygiene.

“When wells dry-up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water. When droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. When floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses. And when water resources decline, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press release.

By some estimates, every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.

The world’s water crisis, Fore says, is here. Unfortunately, climate change is only making it worse. Dry seasons are lasting longer. Rainy seasons are becoming shorter and more intense, often resulting in destructive floods and other weather disasters that wipe out crops and water systems. Half of the global population could be living in areas facing water scarcity within three years, according to UN estimates. By 2040, a quarter of the world’s children will be living in areas of extremely high water stress.

Read the full article about clean water by Joanne Lu at Global Washington.