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Open Defecation Threatens Child Survival, Others In N’East – UNICEF


Open Defecation Threatens Child Survival, Others In N’East – UNICEF

By Njadvara Musa, Maiduguri

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that open defecation is a threat to child survival in insurgency affected states in the Northeast.

According to the UN agency, only 14 per cent of schools, 12 per cent of healthcare facilities and 0.4 per cent of public places have access to WASH services in Borno state.

The UNICE Chief of Field Office in the Northeast, Phuong Nguyen, raised the alarm, yesterday (Friday), in Biu at a two-day media dialogue on open defecation, organised by the Fund in collaboration with Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

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“Governments and stakeholders must collaborate to improve on the situation,” she said, adding that many people have been killed through various water borne diseases, including cholera and other child-killer diseases.

Nguyen noted that the designation of Biu and Shani as open defecation-free was a gift to vulnerable children and families.

She, therefore, stressed the need to extend what has worked in the two Local Government Areas to other 25 in the State.

Continued; “Indeed, if it is possible in Biu and Shani local councils, it is possible for others too.”

The UNICEF boss observed that becoming open defecation-free is a journey and not a destination.

According to her, there were key elements of the journey that they must maintain, including a sustained access to safely managed water and improved toilets both at household and institutional levels.

She warned that a child who has access to improved toilet services at school is at risk when she or he visits their parents in a market without an improved toilet and access to water.

While a mother, she added, who gives birth in a healthcare facility without a water facility is along with her newborn, at risk of infection and even death.

On sustenance of WASH facilities, she said: “For the two councils maintain their Open Defecation-Free (ODF) status, key elements of the construction of toilets in institutions such as schools, health centres and markets must be sustained.

She added that households must also be supported to maintain their improved toilets just as access to safe water for households and public institutions must be sustained.

“We must invest more to strengthen sustainability efforts, including sensitization on hygiene services. Communities must be accountable in the protection and maintenance of WASH facilities. We must also take solid steps to support more communities in Borno State to become open defecation-free.”

The Transitional Chairman of Biu Council, Sule Abubakar, said that the Local Government has passed a by-law for the sustenance of the ODF status in Biu.

According to him, partners are supporting the re-establishment of a microfinance institution to give loans to households to construct improved toilets and ultimately sustain ODF status in Biu.

He, therefore thanked the Netherlands Government, Bank of Germany and the British Government, for putting smiles on the faces of the entire people of Council through support for WASH activities.

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