© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1253/Khuzaie

What water means if you’ve grown up in Australia

Take a nostalgic slip and slide through our love affair with water

Aussies love the great outdoors, particularly anything to do with water, but water us also part of our daily routines and not just in our bathrooms, laundries and kitchens.

For World Water Week, UNICEF Australia takes a nostalgic look at the fun, frivolities and frustrations of water in our lives and what that looks like for children in other parts of the world.

The school bubblers

Bubblers are a fixture of the Aussie school playground, often the meeting place for a recess or lunch rendezvous. However, around the world children miss out on school because there’s no water close by that’s safe to drink during long, hot days. Water points in villages, like this one built by UNICEF in Lao, provide clean drinking water for the whole community – including school children.

Young girl enjoying clean water
© UNICEF/LAO-2015-Noorani-0277/Noorani


Around the water coolers

Where water flows, people come together and that’s as true in the offices of Aussie workers as it is for the girls and women gathered around these taps in a camp for Burundi’s refugees in Tanzania. The great difference is that when the gossip and water runs out, we simply order a refill. For this community and many refugee communities water is scarce and the hot northern hemisphere summer has put pressure on finite resource.

People gathered around a tap in a refugee camp in Tanzania
© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1729/Beechey
under pressure

The dash to the outback dunny

Redbacks on the toilet seat aside, even if you’ve never had to endure the drop toilet, the can, or dunny, you know they can’t be good. But for millions the pit toilet is a luxury and one of the first steps to being a disease-free community. Domestos and UNICEF are working globally to bring this basic level of sanitation to the more than 2.4 billion people who lack a toilet – even a pit toilet.

Basic pit toilet in a developing country
© Domestos
Learn how Domestos is tackling a global sanitation crisis


Lining up for a Port-a-Loo

Scarier than the outdoor dunny and the scourge of every Aussie festival-goer is the portable toilet, or Port-A-Loo. Catering to bigger populations than the summertime Aussie festival circuit, these portable solutions to good sanitation and hygiene are used in established refugee camps in Jordan and Iraq. UNICEF is responsible for bringing clean water, sanitation and hygiene to refugee populations, stopping the spread of disease in these densely populated settlements.
White portable UNICEF toilet
© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1030/Khuzaie
a daily necessity

Diving in on a summer holiday

In summer, Aussies gravitate to the water, but we don’t expect to drink the water we swim in. In Bentiu, South Sudan, these boys enjoy themselves in a watering hole, but tests have proven this drilled bore water unsafe to drink. Water supplies just a couple of months ago had dropped from 15 litres per person a day to nine litres and there are only enough latrines for one to be shared among 65 people. Next time you’re washing sand off under an open-air shower, or dashing to the surf club’s amenities, think of the 682 latrines being built for South Sudan’s displaced.
Children around a watering hole in Bentiu South Sudan
© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1421/Rich
a child’s right

Good health for every child is protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Clean, safe water, along with good sanitation and hygiene stops the spread of deadly disease and saves children’s lives.


Aussies have a definite love affair with water that starts early and stays with us through the decades. We know too what it is to live without water when the threat of long dry summers take their toll.
UNICEF is readying itself to tackle the global water goals of the future, particularly the mission to ensure the world’s population is within reach of clean, safe drinking water by 2030.
Last year, UNICEF provided nearly 14 million people with improved drinking water sources and more than 11 million with improved sanitation and through emergencies, UNICEF’s response benefited 18 million people with drinking water and over 4 million with sanitation efforts – that’s equal to reaching every single Australian.

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