WASH FOR CHILDREN IN MOZAMBIQUE
Photography by Ian Berry
"Because there is not a lot of water, children go to the river and this puts our health at risk."
- Domingo Sarmento Collette, community councilor
Like in most of the developing world, small towns in Mozambique are growing fast. This is in part thanks to rapid economic growth, as well as migration and natural population growth. But rapid expansion has outpaced local governments’ capacity to provide essential services, such as access to adequate water and sanitation facilities, leaving outdated infrastructures severely overwhelmed. This phenomenon is seen across much of Mozambique today, and has considerable consequences for the population, especially children.
The water and sanitation challenge in rapidly growing towns touches households and schools, health centres and hospitals, and, coupled with poor waste management and inadequate hygiene practices, is leading to disease, pollution, increased healthcare costs, and lost productivity.
With flagging interest from the donor community, which traditionally favours rural or large urban areas, small towns often fall in between, struggling to fund their development plans.
And yet, with intelligent and proactive policies, the problem is entirely avoidable. By virtue of their smaller size and lower population density, towns offer opportunities for cost-effective interventions that could greatly improve the lives and health of millions of children.
In a final push towards Millennium Development Goal 7c, UNICEF is working with partners to enable hundreds of thousands of people access to safe water and sanitation, including school children.