…25% Nigerians Engage In Open Defecation
By Chioma Umeha
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria needs not less than $8 billion(N2.88 trillion) annual investment in water and sanitation to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to World Bank figures.
Mr. Zaid Jurji, Chief of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, (WASH) Nigeria, who disclosed this lamented that less than 10 per cent of Nigerians have access to safe water, while 90 per cent have no access to safe drinking water.
Decrying the impact of unsafe water and poor sanitation to every parts of human life, particularly, the development and survival of children, alerted that if Nigeria continues with the slow progress, the country may fail to achieve the SDG Goal 6 by 2030.
Speaking on the overview of water, sanitation and Hygiene situation in Nigeria during a two-day ‘Media Dialogue, on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Jos, Plateau State,’ Jurji called for more serious budgeting allocation to WASH, adding that if Nigeria should triple its investment to a minimum of 1.7 per cent from the current 0.6 per cent GDP, it would meet the SDG by 2030.
“The country will only beat the target by making an investment of $8 billion annually until 2030. Sanitation and water has a big impact on health, economy, and children and to everything that influences lives.”
He further explained that 88 per cent of diarrhea cases worldwide are linked to unsafe water, a scourge which remains second killer of children, adding that $1 dollar investment in water and sanitation will bring back $25 dollar benefits.
Speaking on the hygiene situation in the country, the UNICEF scribe disclosed that the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey released for 2016/207 showed that 25 per cent of Nigerians defecate in the open; a situation he said, was more than Canada population.
“Nigeria is now second in global open defecation, while countries like India are making progress, if the slow progress continues, Nigeria may not achieve the SDG 2030.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, Olumide Osanyinpeju, Deputy Director, Child Right Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, noted that Water, Sanitation and Hygiene is very important in the life of a child as the Sustainable Development Goal 6, SDG 6, clearly emphasized 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.
Osanyinpeju further said that research has also shown that regular hand washing with soap can reduce the incidents of diarrhea, a deadly disease to children.
He said: “Sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children. Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhea, worm infestation and under nutrition. We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030.”
“Simple Hygiene such as hand washing can save lives. Good hygiene practices reduce the incidence of diseases such as pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin and eye infections and diarrhea-related diseases like cholera and dysentery.”
He commended UNICEF for being in the forefront of ensuring access to safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in Nigeria communities.
On his part, Engr. David Wuyep, Plateau State Commissioner for Health, who declared the conference open, said UNICEF has continued to assist the State in providing adequate water for residents, adding that not less than two local governments have been given a borehole by UNICEF.
Wuyep restated State Government’s commitment to providing counterpart funding needed to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in the state.