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WaterAid applauds UN resolution on World Toilet Day celebration

By Eric Ojo

Water Aid Nigeria has applauded the historic decision of the United
Nations (UN) General Assembly to declare 19 November as World
Toilet Day to help boost efforts geared towards bringing sanitation
to all and end open defecation.

The General Assembly resolution was unanimously adopted on 24
July in New York with a call on UN Member States and partners to
promote behaviour change and policies to increase access to
sanitation for the poor as well as a call to end the practice of open

Currently about 2.5 billion people around the world lack still access
to safe sanitation and around 700,000 children die every year from
diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, amounting
to almost 2,000 children a day.

In addition, current figures also estimate that 69 per cent of Nigeria’
s population lacks basic sanitation and that means only 31 per
cent of the population has access to sanitation. Nigeria is one of
the very few African countries where rates of access to sanitation
are actually falling helplessly.

Access to sanitation in the country, according to WaterAid Nigeria
dropped from 37 per cent  in 1990 to 31 per cent  in 2010, adding
that nearly 100,000 children under the age of five die of diarrhoea
every year while nearly 90,000 of such deaths can be attributed to
the country’s poor levels of access to water and sanitation.

The Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo
who gave the commendation in a statement issued in Abuja on
Tuesday, said WaterAid welcomes the recognition of the global
sanitation crisis by the UN and the need for it and member states
to take action.

“This is not just the creation of yet another UN day, but another
sign that governments recognise that toilets for all is essential for
saving children’s lives”, he said.

Dr, Ojo also assured that WaterAid Nigeria will ensure that such a
UN designated day to that will be marked globally is used to draw
attention and create more awareness about the sorry state of
sanitation in communities across the world.

“We’ll certainly continue working with others to use World Toilet
Day to draw government’s attention to the enormous scale of the
problem. This formal recognition by the UN is a sign that a lot of
hard work has paid off and the voices of many across the world
has been heard”, he added.

Also lending credence to this, the UN Deputy Secretary-General
Jan Eliasson and former Chair of WaterAid Sweden, welcomed the
declaration, saying: “This new annual observance will go a long
way toward raising awareness about the need for all human beings
to have access to sanitation.”

Eliasson also urged every country to accelerate progress towards
a world in which everybody enjoys this most basic of rights.

“It may be recalled that WaterAid and international and civil society
organisations all over the world have been observing 19 November
as World Toilet Day for several years, it was not formally
recognised as an official UN day until now. This change will give
the day a higher profile and help the sanitation crisis gain more
attention from governments and stakeholders from across the
globe”, the statement further explained.

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