Why sanitation is tied to driving development in Nigeria

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Because sanitation has so many effects across all aspects of development – it affects education, it affects health, it affects maternal mortality and infant mortality, it affects labor – it’s all these things, so it becomes a political football. Nobody has full responsibility. —- Rose George

I never used to think much about clean water or having clean surroundings, I took it for granted all through my long sojourn in the United States. This past year I have had to do major rethinking about sanitation. Let’s start with water – we use it to take our bath, make breakfast, stay hydrated, keep clean, clean up our homes, flush our toilets… see how much gets done with water!  Hopefully this helps us to realize how integral water is to our lives.

Currently water and sanitation are in dire situation in most areas of Lagos State and there is a direct correlation to ending hardship in getting sanitation right.

The World Bank has research states that good hygiene is the most economical health intermediation available.

What does Sanitation entail? Sanitation is about providing amenities which can safely dispose of all sorts of waste and maintain public hygiene. This involves operating immaculate and nontoxic toilets, keeping water supplies clean and disposing of garbage safely.

Sanitation is a global issue that affects the health and well-being of all populations, and their environment.

Here are 4 reasons why increased funding for water and sanitation is super important in ending excessive poverty.

Infections

Sanitation is directly related to the health of all humans and can thwart the hazardous spread of diseases. Deficient sanitation is a major cause of disease with more than 50% of the world’s hospital beds filled with people experiencing sanitation-related diseases, research carried out by the Hesperian Foundation bears this fact out. Illnesses like diarrhea, worms, cholera and malaria instigated by poor sanitation unnecessarily take the lives of millions of people every day, with diarrhea alone responsible for the deaths of close to 5,000 children a day Unicef states.

The provision of sanitary environs such as proper toilets, clean flowing water and a means of harmless garbage disposal can therefore prevent the occurrence of such extensive disease and death.

Education

Yes, Education and Sanitation are tied hip to hip. Sanitation enables children to have fair access to education to help them thrive in life as adults. The United Nations states that diseases borne from a lack of good sanitation can cause can have a knock-on effect on a child’s education.

When a child has consecutive intestinal infections, they deprive them of important nutrients, delay their development and culminates in poor school turnout and performance. The effects of poor sanitation in under developed nations are mostly felt by girls (Unicef).

Girls are often the main chore bearers; saddled with household chores of walking miles to fetch clean water, causing them to drop out.

Economic Development

Sanitation is instrumental in boosting economic development of a country by affording the means for a healthy workforce while slashing the demand on public health services. Unicef declares that if everyone in the world had access to running water and sanitation amenities, the drop-in diarrhea would save the health sector enormous amounts of money and productivity.

Environment

Sanitation plays an important part in protecting the environment and promoting sustainability. The absence of good sanitation such as proper toilet facilities and sewage methods, waste is disposed of in the streets, and creating foul smells. This waste then finds its way into untreated rivers, polluting the water and killing plants and animals and posing a health risk to those depending on this water for bathing and cleaning purposes (United Nations.)

I am more concerned about the desensitization of sanitation as a norm and accepting filthy environments within the psyches (mindsets) of our children. That is truly worrisome because they have no idea about the extent of damage that bad sanitation will unleash on them.

Adetola Salau; Global Educator / International Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur/ Innovative Thinker/Future Readiness Advocate/ STEM Certified Trainer

She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness.

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