Children spend endless time in search of water

By  Abdulai Kargbo, Water and Sanitation Media Network S/L:

Water is considered to be the most important resource for sustaining ecosystems, which provide life-supporting services for people, animals, and plants.

IT is on this note that all stakeholders working on the accessibility of water must ensure that deprived communities are accorded the right to quality water and clean enviroment at all time. It is unfortunate that in Sierra Leone and other developing countries, children are exposed to a lot of risky conditions in providing water for domestic uses in the homes or farms.

With the lack of pipe born water in most major towns not to mention rural areas, the children are left with no option but take home contaminated water. This in return affects the health status of the child or entire family. Because contaminated water is a major cause

Quality water plays an important role in the body functioning system. Water is the major part of most of the body’s cells (except for fat cells) and it also cushions and lubricates the brain and the joints. It transports nutrients and carries waste products  from the body cells. It also helps regulate body temperature by redistributing heat from active tissues to the skin and cooling the body through perspiration.

The body of a child, like that of an adult, is largely made up of water.

About 60% of the typical adult human body is made up of water, but the percentage is strongly influenced by the level of body fat. The higher the level of fat, the smaller the fraction of body weight that is made up of water.


In newborn children, the percentage of the body that is made up of water reaches around 75% and this falls during growth and maturation. Infants and young children may be especially at risk of dehydration due to diarrhoea and vomiting. This is so as they cannot communicate their needs. Those looking after them need to be alert to the possibility of dehydration, especially during hot weather or during periods of illness.

Active children playing games in hot weather may lose large amounts of sweat, but they are often so involved in what they are doing that they forget to drink. Those looking after them may need to offer periodic reminders.

There is some evidence that providing drinks to children can help them perform better in standardised tests of concentration, short term memory and other essential elements of the learning process. More evidence is needed before definitive guidelines can be given, but teachers may need to make sure that there are opportunities for drinking during the school day and that children are reminded to make use of these opportunities.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that adequate intakes of water for children are as follows: 1,300 mL/day for boys and girls 2 to 3 years of age; 1,600 mL/day for boys and girls 4 to 8 years of age; 2,100 mL/day for boys 9 to 13 years of age; 1,900 mL for girls 9 to 13 years of age. Adolescents of 14 years and older are considered as adults with respect to adequate water intake and the adult values apply.

This article is produced through the support of the Water and Sanitation Media Network Sierra Leone in partnership with West Africa Water Aid and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council United Kingdom.

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