The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has congratulated the Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State for being the first Local Government Area (LGA) in the state to attain LG-wide Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
Dr Zakari Adam, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, gave the commendation during the certification ceremony in Kwoi, the Headquarters of Jaba LGA.
“I feel honored to be part of this event in the history of Kaduna state.
“I heartily congratulate the state, the people of Jaba LGA, our Royal fathers, WASH colleagues and all who contributed to this great achievement,” he said
Adam expressed optimism that the attainment of ODF status by Jaba LGA would open the gate for other LGAs to follow.
He thanked the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom, for the funding support that contributed to the attainment of the ODF status in Jaba.
This, according to him, highlights the importance of preventive care and underscores the need for elimination of open defecation in all communities in the state.
“It is estimated that about 150,000 deaths occur annually, mainly amongst children under five years, due to diarrhoea largely caused by poor sanitation and hygiene.
“Data shows that poor access to improved sanitation in Nigeria remains a major contributing factor to high morbidity and mortality rates among children under five years.
“The latest data on sanitation for Kaduna State shows that the coverage has improved from 29.4 per cent in 2017 to 55 per cent in 2019.
“Also, open defecation has reduced from 10 to 9 per cent between 2018 and 2019,” he said.
He added that over five million people in the state have utilised sanitary toilets, noting however, that over three million people were still using traditional pit latrines.
According to him, 825, 856 people in the state are still practicing open defecation.
“Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities is the root cause of issues such as diseases, malnutrition, worsens health inequalities and promotes poverty.
“Adequate sanitation and hygiene enhance the life prospects of people by reducing their vulnerability and exposure to infections,” he said.
According to him, one of the serious obstacles to attaining LGA-wide ODF status in Kaduna state is the lack of payment of operational funds and weak commitment by LGAs.
He said that the situation made it very difficult to mobilise communities and organise efforts, stressing that investing in sanitation was crucial for development and growth in the future.
“UNICEF, therefore, appeals to the Kaduna state government to put in place a sustainable system for release of operational funds to WASH Departments in the LGAs.
“This will help in monitoring the implementation of Community Action Plans, among others.
“I urge all stakeholders to make significant efforts to ensure that Kaduna becomes the first state to be declared open defecation free in Nigeria,” he said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Vivian Ihechu