UNICEF helps communities to attain Open Defecation Free status

Gloria Essien

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The Water and Sanitation Hygiene, WASH, of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has succeeded in making some Local Governments Areas in Nigeria Open Defecation Free.

This was disclosed at a Two Day Media Dialogue on Water and Sanitation Sector Reform Project holding in Jos, Plateau, state, northern Nigeria.

Mr. Drissa Yeo, WASH specialist with UNICEF, said that the three LGAs certified free are Dass and Warji, in Bauchi state, north east and Obanliku in cross river state, southern Nigeria.

He said that the feat was achieved through sustained community involvement in the WASH project.

Mr. Yep also urged the citizens to imbibe sanitation measures such as regular hand washing and cleaning the environment to stay healthy.

The UNICEF Chief of WASH, Mr. Zaid Jurji, in a paper titled ” Moving Sanitation Forward in Nigeria”, said that water and sanitation have big impact on the health of the people.

He noted that there was the need for collective efforts of all in implementing WASH as governments alone can not do it.

He appealed to the Nigerian government to increase budgetary allocation to WASH to promote healthy living.

Mr. Jurji said that diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children in Nigeria which is as a result of poor sanitation.

He however said that the sanitation situation in Nigeria is slightly better in the urban areas than the rural areas.

He reiterated the need for state governors to always release their caunter part fundings to sustain WASH projects.

Mr. Jurji also called for the training and retraining of citizens for improved hygiene.

He disclosed that UNICEF and the Nigerian government would soon go on a National Sanitation Campaign in the country.

While welcoming participants to the workshop, the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that it is a fact that UNICEF has been in the forefront of ensuring that Nigerians have access to safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in our environment and communities.

He therefore commend UNICEF, other groups and individuals for also advancing the cause of sanitation to make life safe in Nigerian communities.
“Water, Sanitation and Hygiene is very important in the life of a Child. The Sustaining Development Goal 6, clearly emphasises the importance of clean water and sanitation. Water is essential for the survival and development of all children. Without water, children simply cannot stay alive or thrive in a healthy environment. Water resources, and the range of services they provide, strengthen poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability,” he said.

The minister noted that open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition.

” We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030. Sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children. Simple Hygiene such as hand washing can save lives. Washing hands with soap after going to the toilet or before eating can have a significant impact on children’s health. Good hygiene practices reduce the incidence of diseases such as pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin and eye infections and diarrhoea-related diseases like cholera and dysentery,” he noted.

He enjoin the participants to use the medium at their disposal to educate the populace with the WASH situation in Nigeria with particular reference to child development, and well-being of the child.

“You can also hold government accountable to its responsibility to leverage more resources for Water Sanitation and Hygiene. Use your ingenuity to increase the knowledge among community members, individuals and family members on the importance of WASH. Our overall objective of this project is to support the efforts of local and state governments, to the achievement of the water and sanitation related Sustainable Development Goals projects in the three project states of Adamawa, Ekiti and Plateau,” he added.

The WASH programme is meant to improve water governance at the State and Local levels in the benefiting states.

On his part, the Plateau state Commissioner for Water and Energy, Mr. Jafaru Wuyep, applauded UNICEF for the WASH initiative, which he said has greatly affected the lives of the people in the grass roots.

He said that the state would continue to commit it’s counter part fundings for the sustainance of the project.