The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says no fewer than 4,500 people in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau state will benefit from recently inaugurated solar motorised improved water and sanitation facilities.
UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, made this known on Thursday in Abuja.
Hawkins said the communal solar-driven motorised Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities constructed in school included gender segregated latrines and a hand pump.
According to him, the WASH facilities built with support from the European Union (EU) will go a long way toward ensuring that every child in Nigeria has access to safe WASH services.
He said access to WASH services would help to keep children in school.
“Children who do not have safe access to WASH are most likely to lose interest in pursuing learning opportunities. This is because they are forced to spend more time in search for water during school hours or stay out of school to recover from illness caused by frequent episodes of diarrhoea. UNICEF and the European Union call for clean water and toilets in all Nigerian schools,” he said.
Hawkins, in reference to data from the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM), said that no few than 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation.
He said that only 11 per cent of the populace had access to complete basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Hawkins said that only 13 per cent of schools had access to basic water and sanitation services.
According to him, the ripple effect of this is that more than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to water borne diseases.
“Such diseases include diarrhoea of which 90 per cent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation,’’ he said.
Similarly, Amb. Ketil Karlsen, Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, said that clean water, basic toilets and hygiene practices were critical for the survival and development of children.
Karlsen said that the lives of millions of children were at risk without these basic needs.
According to him, “we must do better for children by prioritising WASH on the development agenda.”
He explained that ending open defecation and making water, sanitation and hygiene services available to children in rural areas was one of the biggest challenges in Nigeria.
“In November 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in WASH sector, reaffirming Nigeria’s commitment for eliminating open defecation and launched a national campaign with an objective of achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status by 2025. The EU, through UNICEF and other development partners, are supporting the government of Nigeria to protect the rights of children through the provision of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services in needy locations within the country. The EU funded programmes support WASH projects in urban and rural areas through the provision of water schemes, technical assistance and capacity development to sector institutions and agencies responsible. It improved access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene services in communities.”
He further explained that the union has invested huge sums in the Nigerian water sector to improve the WASH conditions of more than 10 million people in 14 states.
“Working toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a priority for the EU and Nigeria. SDG six ensure access to clean and sustainable water for all,” he said.