Abuja – The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has put in place measures to scale up Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) activities to reduce preventable diseases and deaths in Anambra state.
Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer, UNICEF Nigeria, made this disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the project, which aims at creating awareness on the importance of building and using toilets, would also encourage people to promote healthy living.
“Communities need to be sensitised to understand the importance of keeping a clean and healthy environment.
“Because when people defecate openly, the rain will wash away everything into the rivers, streams or open wells where the same people will fetch the water for their consumption.
“People eat their faeces unknowingly. A community where people defecate indiscriminately, and when they come back into their houses they put their mouths into whatever they find open including water, food and kitchen utensils.
“Sometimes, wind can blow their excreta into the food or water and the people drink such, so the consequent is sickness or diseases that are water-borne,” he said.
He said that the agency was also scaling up its Community-Led Total Sanitation Programme in Katsina and Jigawa states, with support from the European Union (EU).
According to Ogunjobi, the WASH programme aims at creating safe water sources and sanitary facilities in communities and schools and provides hygiene education in five of the 24 Local Councils of the state.
“Water, hygiene and sanitation ensure optimal child health and survival and also boost school attendance rates, especially girls.
“The overall objective of UNICEF in the area of WASH is to contribute to the realisation of children’s rights to survival and development through promotion of the sector and support to national programmes.”
This, he said, would help to increase equitable and sustainable access to, and use of, safe water and basic sanitation services, and promote improved hygiene.
He said CLTS is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation.
The WASH officer said with the CLTS programme, communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of OD and take their own action to become Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Ogunjobi said that at the heart of CLTS lies the recognition that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor result in improved sanitation and hygiene, but the need for a behavioural change to meet this need.
“CLTS focuses on the behavioural change needed to ensure real and sustainable improvement.”
He stressed the need for all stakeholders to raise awareness that as long as even a minority continues to defecate in the open everyone is at risk of disease.
He, however, urged all Nigerians to practice hand washing as a means to reducing incidences of preventable deaths and diseases.
According to the UNICEF, reduction in open defecation can significantly reduce the incidences of diarrhoea, especially in children. (NAN)