A shocking report released by Water Aid has just been released indicating the major role of lack of access to clean water and decent toilets are playing major roles in the global crisis.
As the first anniversary of the Global Goals approaches, Water Aid is calling on world leaders to uphold the commitments they made to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 by making clean water, decent toilets and clean hands a priority in efforts to end malnutrition .
This is based on the findings from their new report, Caught Short that has revealed that around the world, 159 million children under the age of five are stunted - a consequence of malnutrition in the first two years of their life.
While malnutrition is mainly associated with a lack of food, , this report highlights the major role a lack of access to clean water and decent toilets plays in this global crisis.
The Caught Short claims that it's an issue that has received little attention, but one that now needs to be at the forefront of international action if we're to end extreme poverty and create a fairer, more sustainable world in the next 15 years.
In the developing world, a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a major contributor to malnutrition.
One impact of this, is stunting where severe and prolonged under nutrition makes children shorter than normal for their age, and affects their emotional, social and cognitive development.
Currently, more than 650 million people in the world do not have access to clean water and more than 2.3 billion do not have access to adequate toilets.
Moreover, the report indicates that diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation are the second biggest killer of children under five after pneumonia, taking 315,000 young lives every year. Even those children who survive severe bouts of diarrhea are at risk of having their lives, and life chances, forever changed.
50% of malnutrition cases are linked to chronic diarrhea caused by lack of clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, including hand washing with soap.
For a child, experiencing five or more cases of diarrhea before the age of two can lead to stunting. Beyond this age, the effects are largely irreversible.
In Rwanda, 37.9 % of children stunted, 23.9 % of the population is without access to water, 38.4% population is without access to toilets. Rwanda's target is to provide safe drinking water to 100% of its population by the year 2017.
The Caught Short report reveals that India has the highest number of children suffering from stunting in the world - 48 million, or two in every five; Nigeria and Pakistan rank second and third with 10.3 and 9.8 million children suffering from stunting respectively; Timor-Leste has the highest percentage of children who are stunted, at 58%.