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As Nigeria joins the world to mark World Toilet Day 2021, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Nigeria yesterday announced that its data showed 46 million Nigerians did not have access using the toilet, which is essential for ending open defecation, thereby improving health. and total well-being.
As a result, many people in affected communities end up with different preventable diseases that often lead to death.
UNICEF Maiduguri Field Office Chief Dr Clement Adams in his presentation during a day-long media dialogue in Maiduguri yesterday noted that northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are among the states with a high number of people who open defecation. .
Specifically, he said that 16% of the population of Borno state and 32% of the population of Yobe state still practice open defecation with devastating effects on health and well-being. of those affected.
He suggested that stakeholders need to review existing mechanisms to improve access to toilets, reduce epidemics and address malnutrition among children affected by conflict.
“Valuing toilets, being the theme of World Toilet Day 2021 is appropriate. Evidence has shown that access to toilets and water benefits people and nations, promotes the well-being of the workforce, and helps reduce stunting in children. Without a doubt, ending open defecation helps protect the dignity of women and girls and reduce the incidences of gender-based violence, ”he said.
He confirmed that since 2018, UNICEF has supported northeastern states with the construction and rehabilitation of 4,752 and 2,976 toilets, respectively, in IDP camps and communities, and around 200 sites have been supported. with hand pump boreholes, while 126,690 non-food items were distributed to displaced and vulnerable families.
In addition, he said that UNICEF has strengthened the capacity of state departments and LGAs to provide safe and sustainable water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to communities and displaced people in the interior of the country (IDP), and also supported the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to undertake a rapid response. to cholera epidemics.
He added that at a time when the federal government has stepped up efforts to make open defecation through the national Clean Nigeria campaign, it is important for states to adopt a mission mode to become defecation free. open air by 2025.
He urged practical measures to end open defecation, thus advocating for the construction of more toilets and water sources, especially among IDP camps or the most vulnerable host communities. .
“On top of that, schools, markets and other public places should not be left out, even as we encourage behavior change among the population. National and state budgets should reflect the importance of toilets and water sources for the health of children and the workforce.
“We need to prioritize investments in physical and human resources and scale up existing programs aimed at expanding toilet and water services. Obviously, not being able to access the toilet is expensive. It robs children of their health and their peace. When people die from complications from cholera, children are unfortunately deprived of parental care and the most basic protection, ”he said.
He pledged that UNICEF would continue to work with states and RUWASSA, particularly in the northeastern states, to promote the well-being of those affected by the conflict and protect the rights of their children to life and life. a good health.
He also pledged that UNICEF would continue to advocate for an additional toilet and borehole in the northeastern states until every camp, hostel, school and IDP market has a. adequate sanitation and hygiene and facilities ensuring the well-being of all.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Borno State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Dr Mohammed Musa Aliyu, highlighted the challenges the state faces in provide portable drinking water to rural communities in Borno.
“But despite this, especially the insecurity, we were able to provide water to communities in various hard-to-reach local government areas, including Gwoza. For example, we went through difficult times to supply Pulka, a community located 116 km from Maiduguri and a town on the border with Cameroon.
“We had to use security guards to transport water supplies, use helicopters to transport workers, in addition to several sabotages by people who take advantage of the lack of water in the community. “
He also highlighted the roles played by community and religious leaders in eradicating the practice of open defecation in the state.
“We are about to declare that some local communities do not defecate in the open. “
Likewise, the Director General of Yobe State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Alhaji Abubakar Liman Baba, explained in a presentation that the efforts of the State and other partners led to the declaration of one of its local governments, Machina LGA, Open Defecation Free (ODF).
He appreciated the support received from the state government and other partners which has led to the success achieved so far in the fight against open defecation.