November 22, 2011 – UNITED Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) chief, water, sanitation, and hygiene section, Mr Vinod Alkari, has revealed that, Nigeria loses N455 billion annually or 1.3 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to poor sanitation.
Similarly, he added that, 33 million people defecate in the open while only a third of the country’s population have access to improved sanitation, with high morbidity and mortality as direct consequences.
UNICEF chief, Alkari, stated this on Monday at the opening ceremony of the third national roundtable conference on Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Nigeria, held in Katsina State.
Alkari, represented by Mr Bisi Agberemi, explained that, due to sanitation related diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid, 728 deaths were recorded from January to November, this year in 197 local government areas in 25 states in the country.
According to him, improving the disposal of human excreta and stopping open defecation can drastically reduce the disease burden caused by sanitation related diseases and contribute to economic transformation of the country.
The UNICEF chief, who expressed his organisation’s commitment to sanitation development, said “UNICEF will continue to partner with relevant stakeholders to implement other high impact and cost effective interventions to reduce sanitation related diseases.”
He, however, commended the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Katsina State government and the National Task Group on Sanitation for organising the conference and hoped that, participants would make positive contributions to achieve the set targets for sanitation in the country.