UNICEF: "Africa Water Week" celebrated in Johannesburg

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 18 December 2009 South Africa held its second 'Africa Water Week' in November to boost the continents response to safe water and access to sanitation. Organised by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) with support from UN agencies and partners, Africa Water Week is a direct response to the 'Sharm El Sheikh' Commitments on water and sanitation that were made by the African Union Heads of state and Government in 2008.

We have many countries where the vast majority of the population is still practicing open defecation, said UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Clarissa Brocklehurst. In Sub Saharan Africa, in particular, there is a crisis in sanitation and, of course, we see the impact of that we see the poor health of the communities, we see children dying of diarrhoeal diseases so this is something that requires urgent attention.

Across Africa, as many as 355 million people live without access to safe drinking water. The situation of sanitation is even more worrying. An estimated 611 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.