This paper reviews the implications of inadequate provision of water and sanitation for children’s health and general development, especially in urban areas. Research into health differentials shows that child mortality and morbidity rates in poor urban settlements can equal or exceed those in rural areas. This review considers, in particular, the higher vulnerability of children to sanitation-related illness, the links between unsanitary conditions and malnutrition, the impacts for mental and social development, and the practical day-to-day realities of poor provision for children and their caregivers in urban areas. It argues that health education and health care, while essential complements to proper provision, can in no way be considered alternative solutions. The true costs for children of a failure to respond to this ongoing emergency lend another dimension to discussions of the cost-effectiveness of various solutions.
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