This composite indicator measures a government’s commitment to child health as measured by child mortality, the sound management of water resources and water systems, and proper sewage disposal and sanitary control.
Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction
Improving child health leads to a more productive and healthier workforce both presently and in the future. Inadequate water and sanitation is the second leading cause of child mortality; it kills more young children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. 1 Improved sanitation and increased access to water have numerous economic benefits, including productivity savings in the form of fewer missed days of work or school due to illness from unclean water; the economic contribution of the lives saved from diarrheal disease; decreasing treatment expenditures for diarrheal disease at both the individual and government levels and time savings related to searching for facilities and water collection that would increase time for income-earning work. 2 Vulnerable groups, such as women, children, handicapped individuals and the very poor, are particularly affected by inadequate sanitation and water quality, meaning that improvement in these areas would help these groups the most. 3 In children in particular, improved sanitation and water quality have been found to improve learning outcomes due to alleviating the burden of illness and helminthes (parasites) on cognitive development. 4
This index is calculated as the average of three, equally weighted indicators:
- Access to Improved Sanitation: Produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), this indicator measures the percentage of the population with access to facilities that hygienically separate human excreta from human, animal, and insect contact. Facilities such as sewers or septic tanks, pour-flush latrines and simple pit or ventilated improved pit latrines are assumed to be adequate, provided that they are not public and not shared with other households.
- Access to Improved Water: Produced by WHO and UNICEF, this indicator measures the percentage of the population with access to at least 20 liters of water per person per day from an “improved” source (household connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection) within one kilometer of the user’s dwelling and with collection times of no more than 30 minutes.
- Child Mortality (Ages 1-4): Produced by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, this indicator measures the probability of dying between ages 1 and 5.