ABUJA – WaterAid, an international NGO, has attributed 50 per cent of under-nutrition to the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.
The organisation stated this in its report on ‘’Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Human Development’’ projects for 2014.
The report, obtained by newsmen in Abuja, stated that problems associated with inadequate WASH had an impact on virtually all aspects of human development, excessively affecting the living conditions of women and girls.
‘’Increasing access to WASH can contribute significantly to improving health outcomes, and is particularly important to reducing the burden of diseases, malnutrition as well as relieving pressure on the healthcare system as a whole.
‘’The UN estimates that half of all hospital beds in developing countries are filled by people with illness that are readily preventable through basic improvements in WASH.’’
According to the report, WASH is fundamental to health and can go a long way to addressing child mortality rate and other infectious diseases.
‘’Mortality rate, infectious disease still pose the largest threat to the health of our most vulnerable citizens, including young children.
‘’Nearly 100, 000 children under the age of five die of diarrhoea in Nigeria every year as a result of the nation’s poor levels of access to water and sanitation.
‘’Diarrhoea is the third biggest killer of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa and almost 90 per cent of cases of diarrhoea are caused by poor access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene.’’
The report stated that sub-Saharan Africa had been ranked lowest in access to improved drinking water and sanitation and this had made the region to record the highest mortality rate in the world.
According to the report, 2.5 billion people in the world still lack access to sanitation, causing water sources, homes and surrounding environment to become contaminated and contributing to poor health and preventable child deaths.
On the importance of WASH to improving basic education, it said that the inability to access basic services such as water and sanitation had denied some children (especially girl-child) the opportunity to go to school.
‘’These girls are vulnerable to physical challenge due to unsafe toilets in schools.
‘’They find it difficult to go to school on time because they have to spend time to seek and fetch water for the family.
‘’Adolescent girls are denied productive time in education because they have no safe places in school to clean up when menstruating.
‘’Access to water, sanitation and hygiene are crucial for good outcomes in health, nutrition, education and livelihoods,’’ it said.