It is estimated that diarrhoea kills about 194,000 children under five every year in Nigeria, just as respiratory infections kill another 240,000.
According to UNICEF, trends in the past five years allow for cautious optimism that significant progress will be made in decreasing the number of people globally who practice open defecation.
The UNICEF in a press statement observed that lack of toilet remained one of the leading causes of illness and death among children.
The statement signed by the Media officer of the UNICEF D Field Office, Mr. Samuel Kaalu, explained that diarrhoea was preventable with improvement in water, sanitation and hygiene.
“Globally, UNICEF is supporting 50 countries including Nigeria to implement Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) such as Community Led Total Sanitation,” the statement said.
It further explained that CATS was aimed at empowering communities to identify their sanitation challenges and take necessary actions to end open defecation.
According to a joint UNICEF and World Health Organization report of 2012, 34 million Nigerians practised open defecation and Nigeria was amongst top five countries in the world with largest number of people defecating in the open.
UNICEF argued that communities could use their own capacities to attain their objectives and take a central role in planning and implementing improved sanitation.
Kaalu said in Nigeria, UNICEF in partnership with relevant MDAs and donors such as European Union and UK Aid, is supporting the implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation in 30 States of the federation.
As a result, he disclosed, over 2 million people living in more than 3, 000 open defecation free communities were estimated to be using toilets.
Mr. Samuel Kaalu noted that with the continuous support from governments and other partners in scaling up this approach, more Nigerians would live in open defecation free communities.
“Community Led Total Sanitation is simple and an effective way of improving access to sanitation while also paving the way for their improved health,” says Ibrahima Fall, UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria.