Children urge world leaders to include them in push on water, sanitation and hygiene

June 10, 2015 Off By Web Desk

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Some 60 children and young people today told the International High Level Conference on Water for Life here that the world’s youth must be fully engaged in the effort to bring safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene to the most disadvantaged.

In their Call to Action, children from 12 countries attending the two-day conference urged world leaders to listen to their views on what they considered their most pressing issues.

“All children have the universal right to water and sanitation,” said Kamila Muhabbatova, a girl from Tajikistan during a speech in the presence of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

“Despite progress, many children have been left behind in the push to reach the Millennium Development Goals. These children represent the poorest and most vulnerable populations, and must be a priority in the post-2015 development agenda,” she said. “We emphasize the importance of involving children and young people in establishing priorities pertaining to water, sanitation, and hygiene. And, we stand committed to be active partners in achieving these goals.”

Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), welcomed the Call to Action.

“These children are sending a clear and important message: ‘Listen to us and let us do this together’. These issues affect them, not only at home, but in their communities and schools,” Wijesekera said.

“Adequate water, sanitation and hygiene is vital to the future of our world and these young people know it,” he added. “Without those basic rights, diseases devastate them, leaving them ill and wasted, cutting into their time in school, lessening their chance at a good education – and indeed their very chance of survival. We must do better for them.”

The children hailed from host country Tajikistan, as well as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, South Korea, the Philippines, Ukraine, USA and Zambia. Prior to the Conference, they took part in a Children’s WASH Forum organized by UNICEF and the Government of Tajikistan.

The Children’s WASH Forum, from 6-8 June, provided opportunities for the young participants to improve their advocacy skills in the matter of children’s access to water, sanitation and hygiene. The Forum aimed to help children contribute to the global discussions on the issue, and advance the goal of giving WASH access to all children, everywhere – at home, in communities, at school, and during disasters – and so achieve the planned Sustainable Development Goals.