By Augustine Osayande PhD
The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) said poor access to improved water and sanitation in Nigeria remained a major contributing factor to high morbidity and mortality rates among children under five.
The United Nations agency stated that the use of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions resulted in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases, including diarrhoea which led to deaths of more than 70,000 children under five annually.
“Seventy-three per cent of the diarrhoeal and enteric disease burden is associated with poor access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and is disproportionately borne by poorer children. Frequent episodes of WASH related ill-health in children, contribute to absenteeism in school, and malnutrition. Only 26.5 per cent of the population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Also, 23.5 per cent of the population defecate in the open,” the agency said.
It said further that only 26.5 per cent of the country’s population used improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities.
The agency stated clearly that Nigeria would require tripling its budget or at least allocating 1.7 per cent of the current Gross Domestic Product to WASH.
“The ambition is highest for rural sanitation where the gap for improved services is 64.1 per cent. Funding for the sub-sector is weak, and significant household contribution is needed to eliminate open defecation despite low family incomes,” UNICEF said.