Innovation in

Sanitation and Hygiene

Why Innovate?

Innovation is vital to the state of the world’s children. The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator supports promising innovations that address the most pressing challenges faced by children around the world.

In the Accelerator’s second cohort, we focus on supporting innovative solutions to sanitation and hygiene issues broadly, which have an enormous impact on the lives of children everywhere.

How We See
the World

Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development, and the range of services they provide underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability. Adequate sanitation is essential to childhood survival and development, improving children’s education, increasing productivity and building resilience in the face of disease and disaster. Every child, no matter where they live or their circumstance, has the right to safe water and sanitation.

We Need This Now

Without safe water, children simply cannot survive. Without safe toilets, entire communities live with human waste in their environment. Without taps and soap for handwashing, diseases spread rapidly and newborn babies risk death from infection. Young children are particularly vulnerable, and water and sanitation related diseases remain among the leading causes of death in children under five as well as contribute malnutrition and stunting. Children exposed to bodies of polluted water (e.g. with human waste, trash, chemical and industrial waste or other environmental pollutants) are also at increased risk of disease and death. However, in recent decades, overexploitation, pollution, and climate change have led to severe water stress in locales across the world.

Achieving SDG 6.2

  • Worldwide, 2.2 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water.
  • More than half of the global population does not have access to safe sanitation.
  • Three billion people do not have access to handwashing facilities with soap.
  • Still, 673 million people practice open defecation.

UNICEF has committed to support the global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.2 by 2030, which calls for access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and an end to open defecation. While UNICEF will rely on proven strategies such as demand creation and systems strengthening to help governments ensure delivery of sustainable services at scale, new accelerators are needed. This is where Duke University comes in. Together, Duke and UNICEF fund innovative solutions to build sustainable markets for sanitation goods and services through the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator across Africa.

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