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Over 70,000 Nigerian children die yearly from poor access to water, sanitation – UNICEF

At least 70,000 Nigerian children under the age of five die every year due to poor access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.

The agency in a statement on Wednesday decried the severe shortage of clean water supply, toilets, and hand washing facilities in households across Nigeria, explaining that the problem is the major cause of diarrheal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.

UNICEF, while quoting the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of WASH services (WASHNORM), said 30 percent of Nigerians lack access to basic water services and less than 10 percent have access to safely managed water services.

The agency added that 44 percent of Nigerians have access to basic sanitation services, 46 million people lack access to proper sanitation, while access to safe hygiene facilities nationwide is low, at 16 percent.

It further disclosed that Sokoto and Kebbi States have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

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“Access to basic sanitation is also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto States, at 35 percent, 38 percent, and 41 percent, respectively. Only 5 percent of people in Sokoto and one percent in Kebbi have access to safely managed water services,” the agency stated.

The agency further announced that it received $9,978,800 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the Nigerian government’s initiative to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States in north-west Nigeria over the next three years.

According to the statement, the funds will provide lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance and will help to build community-centred approaches to deliver, operate, and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas.

“USAID is dedicated to ensuring clean water for more Nigerians. This new activity with UNICEF will help reduce waterborne diseases to keep more people, especially children, healthy,” Mission Director Anne Patterson said.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said UNICEF was extremely grateful for the timely and much-needed WASH support from the United States government.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with prevailing challenges and gaps in WASH services in north-west Nigeria, is detrimental to the development of children and rural communities,” Hawkins said.

“This assistance is a testament to USAID’s commitment to the children and people of Nigeria,” he said.

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