Thursday, 03 December 2020

UN in your language

Citizens of Flanders collected over 7 million Euros to fight diarrhea worldwide

Rode Kruis VlaanderenCitizens of Flanders collected over 7 million Euros to fight diarrhea worldwide.

It was the 6th edition of ‘Music for Life’, organized by the radio channel ‘Studio Brussels’. Three of the hosts were voluntarily locked up in a Glass House seven days before Christmas. They survived without any food, solely on juice. Listeners could buy songs and the money was donated to the Red Cross in Flanders for their fight against diarrhea. In this way, the Glass House inhabitants tried to raise awareness in the Flemish community of the silent disaster of diarrhea worldwide.

‘Music for Life’ aimed to confront the situation in Nepal, but highlight the problem of diarrhea worldwide. Diarrhea is, together with pneumonia, the most common cause of death amongst children younger than 5 years old. Though it is easy to prevent and to recover from, only 39% of children affected by diarrhea in developing countries are treated effectively. This is mostly the consequence of ignorance about the most suitable medical treatment.

People suffering from diarrhea actually die because of dehydration and moisture loss. Diarrhea, generally, is a consequence of lack of clean water and sanitation. In 88% of cases, it is due to unsafe water, and inappropriate sanitation and hygiene. 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water.

Diarrhea can be prevented easily by washing hands with soap. By increasing access to clean water, the incidence of diarrhea decreases by 47%.

Everything raised through ‘Music for Life’ was given to the Red Cross in Flanders, which has several programs for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea. Those programs facilitate access to safe drinking water and promote hygiene.

If you were in Flanders during that week, you could not miss all the fundraising events: people sold everything you can imagine, played music, lost weight, made calendars etc. People did the craziest things to help and raise money for children with diarrhea. Despite the financial crisis, ‘Music for Life’ raised a record sum.

Similar projects exist in the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Kenya.

* Statistics come from reports by UNICEF and WHO, 2009.

Website Music for Life:

Website Red Cross Flanders:

The former 5 editions highlighted the plight of:

- Orphans who lost their parents due to HIV/Aids (2010)

- Malaria (2009)

- Refugees: Mothers and children (2008)

- Clean Water (2007)

- Victims of Landmines (2006)


3 Questions to Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.


  • Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. The word 'sanitation' also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.


  • Access to sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a human right, a basic service required to live a normal life.


  • The second component of MDG Target 7.C is to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation. Current rates of progress towards this are insufficient. If current trends continue, this component of Target 7.C will not be met (World Health Statistics 2011, WHO)


  • Most countries that are not on track to meet the MDG sanitation target are in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia


  • The United Nations estimates that 2.6 billion people, nearly 40% of the worlds population, still lack access to improved sanitation and around 1.2 billion practice open defecation. An estimated 1.6 million people, mostly children under the age of 5, die each year from water and sanitation-related diseases.


  • Cross-country studies show that the method of disposing of excreta is one of the strongest determinants of child survival: the transition from unimproved to improved sanitation reduces overall child mortality by about a third. Children under five are the most vulnerable to poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation, two of the major causes of diarrhoea. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the disease kills at least 1.2 million children under five each year.


  • “Sanitation is a sensitive issue. It is an unpopular subject. Perhaps that is why the sanitation crisis has not been met with the kind of response we need,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said .


  •        He added that focusing on total hygiene does more than improve health. “It can also improve the safety of women and girls, who are often targeted when they are alone outdoors. And providing safe, private toilets may also help girls stay in school – which we know can increase their future earnings and help break the cycle of poverty.”