Open defecation is a life-threatening practice, as contact with human waste can lead to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio and diarrhea. Every day, 700 children under five die from diarrhea-related diseases.
One of the key approaches in the UNICEF global strategy for water, sanitation and hygiene is to build sustainable markets for goods and services where supply meets demand. In an effort to support the abandonment of open defecation, and 60 million to gain access to at least basic sanitation services by 2021, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is convening industry, financial institutions, governments and development partners in Abuja, Nigeria to discuss shaping healthy sanitation markets in the West and Central Africa Region.
In Nigeria alone, 46.5 million people practice open defecation, making it the second highest ranked country in the world. Following the rise in demand for toilets, “new accelerators are needed to support local markets to deliver sustainable sanitation solutions at scale,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
UNICEF, with a long history of influencing markets and driving product innovation that has increased children’s access to essential commodities, will host a series of regional sanitation industry consultations, the event in Abuja convening product manufacturers, service providers, government officials, financial institutions and development partners to share information, discuss market challenges, communicate perspectives and identify strategic steps to strengthen local markets in West and Central Africa and specifically in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Similar consultations in other regions such as Eastern & Southern Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia and the Pacific are also in the pipeline.