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Toyin Saraki launches Universal Sanitation Coverage campaign; Calls for ‘Toilets for All’

At a World Water Day event today in Abuja convened by WaterAid and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), Toyin Saraki, Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), announced a major expansion of the existing work of her Foundation in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene.

Mrs Saraki launched her Foundation’s campaign to end open defecation in Nigeria in line with the priorities of the World Health Organization, to which Mrs Saraki serves as the Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group of the Africa Regional Office, and the World Bank, with which the Wellbeing Foundation has worked closely on water, sanitation and hygiene since last year.

At the World Water Day event Mrs Saraki commented:

“I commend the progress made by programmes such as the USAID four-year 60-million-dollar investment in Effective Water, Sanitation and Hygiene activity (E-WASH) in six states in Nigeria and the work of DFID in Bauchi State.”

“Thank you to WaterAid Nigeria Country Director Dr Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye and PIND Deputy Executive Director Tunji Idowu for their work to improve water, sanitation and hygiene – often known as ‘WASH’ - indices in Nigeria and for their comments today.”

“I am delighted to announce today that the Wellbeing Foundation will extend its WASH campaign to include not only WASH in schools and hygiene in healthcare facilities, but also ‘a toilet for all’ to end open defecation in Nigeria.”

“Nigeria has the second highest rate of open defecation in the world. This increases the risk of the spread of infectious diarrhoeal disease such as cholera. In addition to campaigning for improved access to clean and safe toilet facilities, the Wellbeing Foundation will work to improve the general understanding of the dangers of open defecation.”

“At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we launched a water, sanitation and hygiene campaign in May 2018, at the World Health Organization offices here in Abuja. We did so because of the overwhelming evidence coming back to us from our frontline healthcare programmes that we had to retrace our steps – that WASH indices in Nigeria were not only poor; but were worsening in many instances.”

“In September 2018 the WBFA partnered with Unilever Lifebuoy Nigeria and Sightsavers to improve hygiene practices to impact more than 2 million children over the following 12 months. The partnership works on programmes which promote hygiene messages and prevent disease, advancing critical hygiene interventions such as handwashing with soap, addressing the issue of child illnesses and mortality due to preventable diseases.”

“WASH indices are often, rightly, discussed as statistical values. That is of course crucial to any national plan, and the WBFA staunchly advocates for improved civil registration and vital statistics systems. We know that one out of three Nigerians does not have clean water close to home and two in three do not have a decent household toilet. This contributes to the deaths of nearly 60,000 children under five each year of diarrhoeal illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene. Poor WASH conditions kill more people annually in Nigeria than have died in conflict with Boko Haram. According to WaterAid, it also means a loss of 0.9% of our GDP, around $3.38 billion USD a year.”

“As Special Adviser to the WHO Africa Regional Office, I also strongly advocate for the WHO Sepsis Resolution to be adopted and implemented by all governments. In October 2018 the WHO introduced new and pioneering guidelines for WASH in conjunction with neglected tropical diseases. These must be acted upon as a matter of urgency.”

Representatives from the UK Department for International Development, the European Union, USAID, UNESCO, Unilever, Coca-Cola and several other stakeholders took part in the event to mark World Water Day.

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