Nigeria, four others have lowest access to toilets, says UNICEF

UNICEFAS part of activities to mark the World Toilet Day, the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF), said lack of access to toilets is endangering millions of the world’s poorest children, pointing to emerging evidence of links between inadequate sanitation and malnutrition.

A global report issued last week -Improving Nutrition Outcomes with Better Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, from UNICEF, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Health Organization (WHO), also provides guidance for action.

UNICEF said some 50 million Nigerians are among the 946 million people around the world who do not have access to toilets and are obliged to defecate in the open, with Nigeria among the five countries in the world with the greatest rates of open defecation.

According to the UN agency, lack of sanitation, and particularly open defecation contributes to the incidence of diarrhoea and to the spread of intestinal parasites, both of which cause malnutrition.

To address the situation, UNICEF has empowered School Environmental Health Clubs (SEHCs) coordinators and head teachers on establishment and training of SEHCs in Yakurr Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) coordinator at Yakurr LGA, Onun Omini Usani, in a statement said: “Sequel to the establishment and training of SEHCs in the initial selected 30 public primary schools and the need to ensure that the positive benefits and impact is cross cutting, inclusive and all-embracing, it became imperative to scale up to all public and private primary schools. Thus, in compliance to the directive from UNICEF Chief of Field Office Enugu during the Midyear Review Meeting of WASH Consultants and UNICEF A Field Office Enugu on 7th July 2015 that proposals on the above be written and submitted for funding, a proposal was written by Yakurr LGA WASH Department and funded by UNICEF to scale up establishment of SEHCs in the remaining public and private primary schools in Yakurr LGA. Thus, between 20th and 21st October 2015, the WASH Department of Yakurr Local Government Council conducted a two-day orientation of SEHC Coordinators and School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in 54 public and private primary schools in Yakurr LGA of Cross River State.”

Usani said the specific objective of the SEHC 2 activity was to give orientation to 108 science/health teachers and 54 SBMCs in each of the target 54 schools, 20 WASH Department Staffs, one education secretary and four education inspectors to facilitate the establishment, training and functionality of SEHCs in 54 public and private primary schools and coordinate their activities for optimum benefits of the WASH in School programme in the schools as change agents both in school and community.

He said the methodology for implementation were one day planning meeting of facilitators, a two-day orientation and capacity building for teacher coordinators, WASH Department staff and LGEA Education Secretary, School Supervisors and SBMCs in three clusters at Ugep, Ekori and Mkpani respectively and practical training sessions involving in all cases simulations and demonstrations of the application of the modules using the Child to Child (CtC) and Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) approaches and tools.

“Furthermore, the capacity building made use of concept definitions and expositions through interactive session’s group work. Issues of sustainable operation and maintenance of the WASH facilities in schools including the provision of consumable supplies such as tissue papers, sanitary pads, water and soap for hand washing were discussed for SBMCs to take responsibility and ownership on the second day,” Usani said.

According to the WASH coordinator, the following results were achieved: 108 teachers and 54 SBMCs from 54 public and private primary schools have the knowledge and skills to effectively establish Environmental Health Clubs within two weeks of orientation; 54 SEHCs are established, trained and functional within 2 weeks of orientation; 20 WASH Staff, five Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), four school supervisors and LGEA Education Secretary are able to supervise the establishment and training of the SEHCs in schools as contained in the step down process guide; and Action Plan for schools establishment, training and implementation of SSHE activities by each of the 54 schools developed and are being implemented.

Also, the SBMCs in the 54 schools are sensitized and have agreed to give support to the 54 schools in the establishment, training, provision and maintenance of WASH facilities and consumables.

Additionally, performance monitoring is mainstreamed. Usani said the performance of the teachers and 13 LGA facilitators at four schools per staff were monitoring SEHCs weekly for two months at three visits per school. “LGEA school supervisors have made monitoring of the SEHCs a part of the issues looked into during their regular monitoring visits. Full monitoring report will be shared in due course,” he said.

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