ABUJA, 14 November 2018 – In an effort to support 250 million people globally to abandon 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 from the 13th to 15th November in Abuja to discuss shaping healthy sanitation markets in the West and Central Africa Region.
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. “There is a need for governments and development partners to work in partnership with global and local businesses to ensure that appropriate solutions are available and affordable to those who need them,” says UNICEF’s Supply Director, Etleva Kadilli.
This consultation is an important signal that solutions are urgently needed to achieve targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals. Currently, 2.4 billion people worldwide do not use improved sanitation. As a key custodian of SDG 6.2, UNICEF works to achieve equitable access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for all and to end open defecation by 2030.
Open defecation is a life-threatening practice, as contact with human waste can lead to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio and diarrhea. Inadequate or non-existent sanitation causes tremendous harm. Every day, 700 children under five die from diarrhea-related diseases.
Sanitation in West and Central Africa (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana)
The level of open defecation in West and Central Africa accounts for 14 per cent of the global open defecation rate. In Nigeria alone, 46.5 million people practice open defecation, making it the second highest ranked country in the world. Between 2008 and 2017, the creation of sanitation demand through Community Approaches for Total Sanitation in West and Central Africa has led to an increase of almost 25 million people living in open defecation-free communities.
“Despite this recent success, the current rate of progress is insufficient to eliminate open defecation by 2030,” says Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “While UNICEF will continue to rely on proven strategies, new accelerators are needed to support local markets to deliver sustainable sanitation solutions at scale. Following the rise in demand for toilets, we will work with countries to enhance the engagement of the private sector to provide adequate and affordable sanitation products and services, including in isolated, often underserved rural areas.”
In the first of a series of regional sanitation industry consultations, the event in Abuja will convene 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. UNICEF is a key market influencer for solutions that improve the lives of children and their families. As the world’s leading organization for children and the largest procurement agency in the United Nations, UNICEF has a long history of influencing markets and driving product innovation that has increased children’s access to essential commodities.
 An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact.
 Community Approaches for Total Sanitation, or CATS, encapsulate various approaches to community based sanitation such as Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
The Sustainable Development Goals, a set of goals to guide global development to 2030, include a specific goal to “ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. In the pursuit of this goal and fulfilling the rights of children, UNICEF works to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.