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Published On: Sun, Jul 20th, 2014

22 children die per hour, 194,000 die every year

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…Nigeria, not certain to meet water, sanitation MDG targets –UNICEF

By Doyin Ojosipe

This is even as report has shown the inadequate support giving it by the federal government to tackle lack of improved water supply and sanitation facilities in the country.

It was evident in the non inclusion of the sector in the political or national agenda of the country, while the water and sanitation sector have received little attention from the government.

With low operational and maintenance culture, huge financing gaps due to lack of investment plans to match with the ever growing population of Nigerians and weak monitoring and evaluation systems cum just a few months to 2015; it is most certain that Nigeria may not meet its targets.

In a statistics taken, UNICEF revealed that about 68 million Nigerians lack access to improved water supply while 113 million lack access to improve sanitation facilities.

The UN agency also revealed that most of Nigerians who do not have good sanitation have taken to defecating in the open, which poses dangerous threat to health and wellbeing.

Explaining the dangers inherent in open defecation, UNICEF, said just a gram of the human faeces contain more than 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs, which when done on the soil could cause infection through contacts.

According to UNICEF, diarrhoea is a killer disease of children under the age of five; which is contacted as a result of poor hygiene and lack of improved water and sources.

It also said that apart from diarrhoeal linkage to malnutrition, lack of water and poor hygiene was responsible for intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and polio.

The UN agency added that of the 1.8 million people who die of diarrhoea, every year, about 90% of them are children under the age of five, while about 22 child deaths are recorded per hour.

At a 2 day media dialogue on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), hosted by the UN agency, UNICEF Specialist, Amos Kudzala said access to quality water remains a major challenge as it affects education and gender adding that while the girls would have to go for water gathering instead of being in school, those who are sick will be absent from schools which could slow their education as well.

In his words “Water is intimately linked with education and gender equality. Girls who have to spend time gathering water for the family tend not to be in school. And where schools have sanitation, attendance is higher, especially for girls.”

The Specialist expressed worry that despite the import of good water to a child’s health, adequate provision has received just a little attention from the government.

Kudzala also advocated for the water sanitation and hygiene programs in schools, starting from the primary to the secondary and tertiary institutions as every child, whether rich or poor has right to health, improved sanitation and water.

UNICEF also advocated for Community Led Total Sanitation; an approach that creates awareness while using participatory methods to create shame and disgusts when people realize they eat and drink from their wastes, comprising faeces, urine among others when they contaminate the food and water they consume through poor hygiene and open defecation.

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