By SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri –
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene are responsible for the deaths of about 1,000 children under five years annually while about 2 billion people globally lack basic hand washing facilities.
“Globally, there are 3.5 billion people living without safe toilets and 2.2 billion persons living without safe drinking water. 419 million people still go to the toilet in the open (‘open defecation’) while the current rate, 3 billion people will still be living without safe toilets, 2 billion will be without safe drinking water and 1.4 billion will lack basic hygiene facilities by 2030”, says UNICEF WASH Manager, Mamita Bora Thakkar.
Ms. Thaktar stated this on Friday at a press conference held at UNICEF Maiduguri Office in commemoration of 2023 World Toilet Day.
She said the sector has focused for decades on boosting access to infrastructure and service delivery as Well as closing gap on policy action necessary to achieve scale and sustainability.
According to her, “The time is NOW. With seven years left to attain the SDGs by 2030, the window for action is rapidly closing. Systems strengthening efforts are key to unlocking real progress”
“Lack of sanitation has a profound impact on public health, economic productivity, environmental integrity, and educational attainment especially for girls and women who are disproportionately affected by deplorable sanitation conditions.
” We need to undertake appropriate climate adaptation measure tp ensure our sanitation initiatives do not impact the climate negatively. Safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution.
” Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 is the world’s promise to ensure safe toilets for all by 2030. This means everyone having access to a toilet connected to a sanitation system that effectively removes and treats human waste.
” But, we are seriously off track to meet this target. We must work on average five times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030,” Mamita said.
The UNICEF WASH Manager, further, explained that Borno State has made a significant progress, in getting the first two LGA as Open Defecation Free, last year, pointing out that, the momentum needs to be sustained, with accelerated efforts to bring more LGAs under the ODF campaign.
She advised also that “sanitation results can be achieved, if it’s a high administrative and political priority, if adequate budgets are released, if capacities are built at every level and a deadline is followed”.
“For the State to become totally Open Defecation Free, it will require investments, to ensure capacities are built, access to the supplies and services in public places are ensured and ODF status is sustained in the communities.
” It also requires leadership at all levels, national to subnational levels, at home, in communities, in institutions, to create a culture where use of toilet becomes social norm, and everyone’s habit.
” With just seven years left, the world has to work, on average, five times faster to meet the sanitation target of SDG 6, safe toilets and water for all by 2030. Sanitation and drinking water are human rights, and access to these services is critical to people’s health and the integrity of the environment.
” Three pillars critical to effectively and sustainably scaling up and accelerate sanitation for all, is political leadership, a strong enabling environment, and increase supply and demand for sanitation through inclusive programming at scale,” Thaktar said.