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Fast facts

67 million children

Were not attending primary school in 2011, 53 per cent girls.

High-Level International Conference on the Implementation of the International Decade for Action: «Water for Life» 2005 — 2015

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16 June 2015
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CALL TO ACTION

We, children and young people from 13 countries around the world, have gathered in Dushanbe Tajikistan on the occasion of the High-Level International Water Conference. We are young leaders, actively engaged in water, sanitation and hygiene issues,who have come together to learn, share, discuss and represent our peers and networks for global advocacy.

All children and young people have the universal, human right to access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Despite progress, many have been left behind in the push to reach the Millennium Development Goals; children represent the most vulnerable population. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kill one thousand children every day and leadto impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.

If the significant gains related to water, sanitation and hygiene made for many children and young people in recent years are to be sustained, then children must be at the heart of the new global agenda. The emerging Sustainable Development Goals are a key opportunity to support the realization of rights for current and future generations of children — especially the most disadvantaged.
We feel that young people provide a unique perspective and skill set to make changes in society; their actionable and innovative ideas can provide a clear roadmap for improved access to clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.

We call upon Governments, members of civil society and fellow children and young people to contribute to universal access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene, to ensure that:

1. All children, boys and girls, are afforded their dignity through the provision of adequate water and sanitation facilities in their homes.

Governments and partners are called to accelerate the provision of water and sanitation at the household level, recognising that those without toilets in the home are at increased risk. In addition, their dignity may be affected. And, a source of clean water should be located within a reasonable distance of homes. Young people can promote improvements about sanitation and hygiene behaviours at home among their brothers, sisters and parents.

2. All children are afforded appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools, resulting in improved education and long-term economic growth.
Governments and partners are called to ensure minimum infrastructure standards that include privacy with locks on the inside of doors, separate toilets for girls and boys and access for children living with disabilities. We ask for hand washing facilities that are well maintained, with soap, clean water and hygienic ways of drying hands. We call upon our fellow peers to work in and with schools to ensure that minimum standards are being upheld. And, we encourage school administrations to support mechanisms to give voice to students to call attention to issues pertaining to water, sanitation and hygiene.

3. All children and young people, especially the most disadvantaged, have appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, in the community.
We recognize that not only Governments have a responsibility to provide adequate water and sanitation, but we call upon private business and enterprise, civil society, and communities to provide technical and financial support for innovative solutions. We call upon governments and other partners to work together to promote dialogue and exchange best practices about water, sanitation and hygiene. Young people are in a prime position to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and to use social media to promote, with super speed, messages on the rights of all children and young people to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

4. All children and young people have adequate preparation, necessary knowledge, and access to standard water, sanitation, and hygiene during humanitarian situations.
We recognize that disasters exacerbate pre-existing inequalities between and within countries, and especially affect vulnerable groups, including children, women, people living with disabilities, the elderly and the poor. We urgegovernments, communities, schools and familiesto work together to increase their investments in the well-being of children and young people during emergency situations to ensure their rights are met.

This Call to Action aims to spur a global movement to work for and with children and young people to expedite the work in water, sanitation, and hygiene. We remain committed partners to developing and realizing these goals.

We must work together. Let’s Act Now!

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UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

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