‘San­i­ta­tion Sit­u­a­tion De­te­ri­o­rat­ing in Nige­ria’

THISDAY - - NEWS - Mar­tins Ifi­jeh

Data from the Mul­ti­ple Clus­ters Indi­ca­tor Sur­vey (MICS) and JMP have shown that ac­cess to ba­sic san­i­ta­tion has steadily re­duced in Nige­ria be­tween year 2000 and 2015, while open defe­ca­tion has wors­ened be­tween 2010 and 2015.

Stat­ing this dur­ing a two day me­dia di­a­logue on Wa­ter San­i­ta­tion and Hy­giene (WASH) in Anam­bra State ear­lier in the week, a Re­search Spe­cial­ist, United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF), Mainga Moono Banda said so far, about 130 mil­lion Nige­ri­ans use unim­proved san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, adding that more than half of that fig­ure live in ru­ral ar­eas.

They said with the steady de­cline, Nige­ria may not meet the 2030 tar­get of the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goal (SDG) on wa­ter san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene, ex­cept some­thing dras­tic is put in place.

“Of the 180 mil­lion Nige­ri­ans in the coun­try, about 75.8 per cent of the cit­i­zens who live in ru­ral ar­eas prac­tice open defe­ca­tion, mak­ing the coun­try the third high­est na­tion with open defe­ca­tion glob­ally. This di­rectly re­sults to the death of about 45,000 peo­ple every year in the coun­try.

“Tar­get six in the SDG is spe­cific on WASH. It says by 2030, all coun­tries should achieve univer­sal and eq­ui­table ac­cess to safe and af­ford­able drink­ing wa­ter for all. Also, by 2030, na­tions should achieve ac­cess to ad­e­quate and eq­ui­table san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene, and end open defe­ca­tion,” Banda said, not­ing that spe­cial at­ten­tion should be placed on women, girls, and those in vul­ner­a­ble si­t­u­a­tions.

While em­pha­sis­ing that Nige­ria is do­ing well in ar­eas of wa­ter sup­ply, she said the ma­jor con­cern should be on ad­dress­ing san­i­ta­tion as mil­lions of homes in ru­ral ar­eas in the coun­try still lack la­trine, TP taps, ba­sic hand wash­ing tools, among oth­ers.

“Poor WASH can cause myr­i­ads of prob­lems, in­clud­ing death. A mother who just de­liv­ered can in­fect her baby by mere car­ry­ing the baby if her hands are not prop­erly washed. With proper hy­giene, the woman can help pre­vent the baby from sep­sis or deaths by about 15 per cent.

“Poor WASH can af­fect school at­ten­dance be­cause a child who is in­fected with bouts of di­ar­rhea can end up be­com­ing un­der­nour­ished, and on the long run may lead to stunt­ing, poor at­ten­dance in school. It can also lead to poor learn­ing in school.”

She also ex­plained that with good san­i­ta­tion women and girls gain their dig­nity, adding that girls lose self es­teem and avoid school be­cause of dif­fi­culty in man­ag­ing their men­strual cy­cle.

She there­fore noted that UNICEF will con­tinue to pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to WASH and health fa­cil­i­ties in its fo­cus ar­eas.

Mean­while, the Pro­gramme Man­ager, Ru­ral Wa­ter Sup­ply and San­i­ta­tion Agency, Min­istry of Pub­lic Util­i­ties and Wa­ter Re­sources, Anam­bra State, Ezekwo Vic­tor said the state gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to WASH, adding that Gov­er­nor Wil­lie Obiano has re­ha­bil­i­tated 116 non func­tional bore­holes across the state.

“We have also com­pleted 33 wa­ter sup­ply schemes, the com­pi­la­tion of phase 11 re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion works for non func­tional bore­holes, among oth­ers.”

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