Lack of access to potable water and sanitation facilities is one of the major causes of infection in Nigeria, especially among children. According to Water Aid – an international body that works on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues in developing counties – over 100 million Nigeria do not have access to improved sanitation and over 67 million people lacking access to safe drinking water.
It has been suggested that about 70,000 children under five die annually from water-borne diseases, such as diarrhea arising from the use of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions. Diseases related to poor water and sanitation facilities are some of the leading causes of absenteeism among school children in Nigeria. A vast proportion of schools in Nigeria do not have proper and decent water and hygiene facilities for school children. In many urban settlements, lavatories are scarce and residents who do not have any lavatory to use defecate in bushes, open spaces, and drains. Open defecation is a regular site in both rural and urban areas in Nigeria. Pressed by the urge to expel feces from their systems, residents throw caution to the winds and deposit excreta anywhere they deem suitable despite the laws and regulations against such practice. It is also worrisome that the smell of excreta welcomes visitors even from the school gate (primary and secondary) in many schools across the country. The situation has reached a significant level.
It is estimated that the economic impact of poor sanitation and hygiene cost Nigeria about £1.8 million pounds annually. This amount is equivalent to 1.3% of Nigeria’s annual gross domestic product (DFID 2013). The United Nations recognizes the importance of better water and sanitation in the development, well-being, and prosperity of nations across the world. Number 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals work towards ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation services globally.
What SPP is doing
At SPP, we seek to promote better water and sanitation services in Nigeria starting with a campaign against open defecation in schools. SPP aims at achieving an optimal sanitary environment that is safe and conducive for the health of the school community in order for the child to achieve maximum benefits from educational programs.
We also aim to ensure students’ self-realization of personal hygiene and sanitation through sensitization and training. Our projects span across education, capacity development, community sensitization, promotion of the construction of sanitation facilities and monitoring.
SPP recognizes teachers and School Management and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) as role models and changes architects while the students as the change agents. Therefore, we care and are committed to working closely with them towards ensuring greater awareness and the provision of better WASH facilities in schools.