UNICEF’s Tap Project

The problems we as Americans face today seem overwhelming and even debilitating to our lives. When put into perspective, however, one can see that we are truly lucky. Staples of life, such as access to clean water, are taken for granted. Even the poorest Americans have access to clean drinking water. Third world citizens lack this same kind of access, and their governments don’t have the resources to provide clean water to all of their citizens. UNICEF’s Tap Project is determined to bring change to this harsh reality.

         Today 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population (Infrastructure). If current trends continue, 2.4 billion people, roughly 40% of the world’s population, will lack access to basic sanitation by 2015 (WHO). A person without access to clean drinking water is exponentially more likely to become ill through waterborne diseases. “Worldwide, the lack of sanitary waste disposal and of clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing is to blame for over 12 million deaths a year” (Gleick). In 2000 there were 2.2 million deaths from diarrheal waterborne diseases alone (Gleick). These, along with many other illnesses, incapacitate a person from living a healthy lifestyle. Many able bodied members of a developing community spend hours of wasted time, daily trekking to the local water source, which is often miles away. UNICEF explains, “In Cote D’Ivoire, the UNICEF Tap Project funded water pumps that mean that Suzanne and Claudia no longer have to walk 3 miles each morning to get to the nearest well- a chore that used to mean they often missed school” (A UNICEF).

            A lack of access to clean water is a severe hindrance to economic development. A poor person without access to clean drinking water is likely to be malnourished or ill, thus causing their productivity to suffer. As a result, low productivity assures poor people low wages on which to support themselves and their families, leading to a vicious circle of poverty. A lack of production, combined with an inability to consume, affects a country’s economy in a severe way, crippling it to the point of inexistence. UNICEF can improve the health of billions of suffering people, and can also nurture developing countries’ economies back to health. UNICEF is essentially acting as a coordinator and investor in the developing countries’ economies.

            UNICEF is a UN organization focused on providing aid and assistance to people in need. The UNICEF Tap Project specifically focuses on providing accessible clean water, and in doing so helps fight diseases. Specifically, UNICEF enacts two policies: hardware, which includes investments and production of drilling rigs and hand pumps, and software, which builds capacities of institutions. Through its hardware and software strategies, UNICEF can provide clean drinking water to a child for 40 days with every dollar received (A UNICEF). UNICEF’s goal is to cut the number of people who are without access to clean water in half by the year 2015. UNICEF’s project depends on corporate sponsors, celebrity donors, and donations from anyone willing to give a dollar.

            Haiti is an example of a country that has benefited from the UNICEF Tap Project. UNICEF has successfully restored over 200 wells with hand pumps in Haiti, and rehabilitated 25 water gravity systems (A UNICEF). UNICEF played a large role in providing clean water after the devastating earthquake of 2010. Soon after the catastrophe, UNICEF was providing potable water to over 235,000 people.  Water was provided to affected people through the use of a 10,000-liter water bladder.  This initiative helped stave off dehydration and disease.

Projects like the UNICEF Tap Project can provide a short-term solution to a systemic and complex problem. UNICEF can provide a foundation by approaching the problem, but ultimately strong and focused governmental entities will be the key and final step to permanently fixing this deeply rooted issue and assuring poor people have clean and safe drinking water.

By Santiago Sueiro and Jeffery Apperson


 “A UNICEF Success Story from Haiti.” The UNICEF Tap Project ®. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.

 Gleick, Peter H. “Dirty Water: Estimated Deaths from Water Related Diseases 2000-2020,” Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security 501 (August 2002): 1-12.

 “Infrastructure | Youthink!” Youthink! | Ready to Act? Set to Learn More? Web. 10 Feb. 2011.

 “WHO | Poor Sanitation Threatens Public Health.” Web. 10 Feb. 2011.

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