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Published on Jul 12, 2009
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, 10 July 2009 It is a fine, sunny day in Dushanbe, and people are out strolling, enjoying the citys many fountains. But the lack of potable water has become a major concern for people here, and a major source of illness for nearby residents.
A 10-minute drive from the city centre, nurse Muharrama Ahmedova in Dara village tends to a three-month-old baby girl named Omeena who has severe diarrhoea caused by unsafe water.
Because theres no access to safe water here, we have diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid fever, malaria and anaemia, says Ms. Ahmedova, who also notes that in the past year alone, she believes cholera has taken the lives of up to 70 people in the area.
The water situation is a major source of concern for UNICEF. The organization has supported hygiene education in hundreds of Tajik schools, raising children's awareness of the dangers of unsafe water. The aim of such efforts is to change behaviour and thereby reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases. But the problem of safe water supply remains a major challenge.
UNICEF Tajikistan Representative Hongwei Gao notes that access to safe drinking water is one of the rights included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which marks its 20th anniversary this year.