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Reducing diarrhoeal diseases through good sanitation, hygiene practice

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Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under the age of five die because of diarrhoea, mainly due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene practice. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under-nutrition. The economic impact of poor sanitation and hygiene cost the Nigerian economy the equivalent of almost 1.3 per cent of gross domestic product.

Even though Nigeria has made substantial progress in developing policies and strategies for water supply and sanitation service delivery, translating these policies into action through effective implementation remains a major challenge. About 70 million people, out of a population of 171 million, lacked access to safe drinking water, while over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation in 2013.

One of the responses to tackling this issue has been the European Union-funded Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme Phase 2 (WSSSRP II) implemented by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in the six states of Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Osun, Anambra and Cross River.

However, at Media Dialogue on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF with the support from European Union (EU) UNICEF WASH Specialist, Mainga Moono Banda lamented that in spite of efforts and the huge amount being spent on sanitation in Nigeria, sanitation is declining instead of improving, stressing that this calls for concern.She observed that poor access to portable water, open defecation, and lack of proper hygiene have been linked to increase diarrhea diseases.

Banda noted that Water, Sanitation and Hygiene play a critical role in people’s health as access to portable water, improved sanitation and hygiene can prevent children from diarrhea and malnutrition.Banda said that Nigeria ranks among top 3 countries in the world with largest number of people practicing open defecation as contained in WHO/UNICEF JMP 2015 report .She pointed out that about 46 million Nigerians practice open defecation and that out of this number, 33 Million live in rural areas.

According to her, ensuring access to safe water and sanitation will promote human equality and dignity.Banda who pointed out that out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Water and have a dedicated goal due to the importance , said that for Nigeria to meet up SDG 6 on water and sanitation by 2030, provision of safe and adequate water is imperative .

Banda said even though Nigeria is doing well in area of water supply, the major concern should be on addressing sanitation as millions of homes in rural areas in the country still lack latrine, TP taps, basic hand washing tools, among others.She said, “130 million across the country use unapproved sanitary facilities, more than half live in the rural area while 45,000 children die annually from diseases caused by poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene.” She said poor WASH apart from causing diseases can also affect school attendance.

The Programme Manager, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Ministry of Public Utilities and Water Resources, Anambra State, Ezekwo Victor said the state government was committed to WASH, adding that Governor Willie Obiano has rehabilitated 116 non functional boreholes across the state.“We have also completed 33 water supply schemes, the compilation of phase 11 rehabilitation works for non functional boreholes, among others.”

Ezekwo noted that the state government has completed 33 water supply schemes across the state.Earlier, the Deputy Director, Child Right Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Olumide Osanyinpeju, noted that UNICEF and EU have been in the forefront of ensuring that we have safe water in Nigeria. He said that even though a lot has been achieved, more still needs to be done to ensure safe water and sanitation in our communities to boost health across the country. Osanyinpeju commended UNICEF and EU for their support in ensuring that safe water, sanitation and hygiene were brought to rural people of Nigeria through the WASH Programme.


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