Open defecation, poor water sanitation, leading causes of infant mortality in Nigeria
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has identified open defecation and poor water sanitation as the leading causes of death of children under five years in Nigeria.
Specialist on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), UNICEF Enugu office, Mr. Timi Kiakubu, who said this in an interview with some newsmen in Calabar after a training workshop for monitoring and evaluation officers, coordinators of WASH departments in councils, UNICEF desk officers, among others, at the weekend, said something urgent has to be done if this situation will be arrested.
Kiakubu said: “Nigeria has a plan to eradicate open defecation by 2025. If one checks closely the Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping Survey (WASH-NORMS) of the Federal Government, one would see that while some states are making progress, others are far behind.
“Open defecation opens up a channel for WASH-related diseases/infection with attendant loss of financial resources in hospitals and even death. In fact, this is one of the leading causes of death of children under five years.
“My concern is on whether Nigeria would be able to meet the 2025 target. For you to achieve the target, you need to measure progress and for us to achieve the target of 2025, we need to prioritise.”
He added: “We need to see the priority in what the states talk about, in what they budget for the issue at stake, and what funds are released for the realisation of the 2025 target. If you ask me, I have not seen those priorities.
“The other concern is boots on the ground. We have not seen much of that. This issue has become mainly donor dependent, and if this continues to be the approach, I am afraid it is going to be difficult to eradicate open defecation.”
In this regards, he charged Nigerian political leaders from both the federal and state levels to take the eradication of open defecation as a priority if the 2025 target would be realized.
The WASH specialist charged policymakers to review their commitment to not only the WASH programme but on issues of development, saying: “Development cannot be donor-driven. Donor-driven development is not sustainable; it is also called supply-driven development.
He said: “When development is driven by the people themselves and their governments, then it becomes sustainable and we call it demand-driven development, and until Nigeria moves from supply-driven development to demand-driven development, most of the efforts that donors are making could end as temporary palliatives.”
He charged states to embrace action to end open defecation and encourage desk offices and trainees at the workshop to engage on proper data programmes of water sanitation, defecation and others.