289,000 children die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor WASH

Posted on 13/06/17 by Amy Keegan (WaterAid UK)

The number of children under the age of 5 dying from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor WASH is now estimated to be 289,000. This is a decrease of 26,000 deaths a year.

Recently released figures from the Lancet state estimates that in 499,000 children died from diarrhoea globally in 2015.

58% of diarrhoeal deaths are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, according to the “Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle- income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries.” 

Therefore, WASHwatch can estimate that 289,420 children under 5 a year die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

(58% of 499,000 = 289,420)

Where are these deaths happening?

The countries with the highest number of deaths of under 5s from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor WASH are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.(See Figure 1) When adjusted for population, Chad, Niger and Somalia have the highest deaths per 1,000 live births. (See Figure 2)

Ranking                  Country Deaths
1 India  60, 693
2 Nigeria 59,552
3 Pakistan 19,482
4 Niger 11,524
5 Democratic Republic of the Congo  11,088
6 Chad 9,154
7 Ethiopia 8,504
8 Somalia 5,302
9 Kenya 5,171
10 Indonesia 4,964

Figure 1: Top ten countries with highest number of deaths by diarrhoeal diseases due to poor WASH

Ranking            Country Deaths
1 Chad 344
2 Niger 281
3 Somalia 261
4 Guinea-Bissau 239
5 South Sudan 223
6 Nigeria 190
7 Lesotho 171
8 Burkina Faso 146
9 Central African Republic 138
10 Mali 131

Figure 2: Top ten countries with highest number of deaths by diarrhoeal diseases due to poor WASH per 1,000 live births. 

Whilst it is encouraging that the overall global number of deaths is decreasing, it remains unacceptable that such a high number of children are dying from something as simple as not having access to clean water, decent sanitation and hygiene. 

Amy Keegan is a Policy Officer - Monitoring and Accountability for WaterAid. She tweets as @amy_keegan