Mr. Oumar Doumbouya, a UNICEF representative said this on Tuesday in Abuja during the 2019 Global Hand Washing Day Celebration with the theme, “Clean Hands for All’’ .
He said that the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Nigeria was facing an interesting time with the recent declaration of state of emergency in the sector, the target to end open defecation by 2025 and government commitment’s to revitalise the sector.
“Hand washing has been proven by several studies to be the most cost-effective intervention in the prevention of communicable diseases. However, the facts and figures do not show that Nigeria is taking advantage of this.
“The finding from the 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM) conducted by the Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics with support from UNICEF, revealed that only 21 per cent of households have access to basic hand hygiene services.
“The report also revealed that while only 12.5 per cent of households demonstrated proper hand washing with soap under running water.
He also noted that more than 100, 000 children under five die each year due to diarrhea, of which 90 per cent were directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
Doumbouya said that Nigeria has a national strategy for the promotion of hygiene, which prioritises hand washing before eating, after using the toilet, and after cleaning a child who defecated.
He said that the strategy focuses on the promotion of hygiene in three key contexts that include communities through households, schools working with teachers and school environmental health clubs and health facilities work in with facility health workers.
He said that the data above from the WASH-NORM showed that more needed to be done that regard.
“As Nigeria strives to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across in the section, UNICEF will continue to support government efforts to revitalise the WASH sector through various activities and projects.