The United Nations Children’s Education Fund on Wednesday said 276 communities across the country have been certified open defecation-free.
UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Kaduna, Utpal Moitra, made this known in Minna, Niger State at a mid-year review of 2016 UNICEF State plan for Niger State.
Moitra said about 97,000 people consisting of 38,800 males and 58,200 females have gained access to safe drinking water, leading to reduced prevalence of hygiene and water related diseases.
He maintained that though the country accounts for 11 per cent of the global burden of under-five infant mortality, there have been concerted efforts by states in collaboration with UNICEF to arrest the trend.
The UNICEF officer commended the Niger State Government for its giant strides in Maternal and Child Health care over the past few years, adding that UNICEF was keen on more areas of cooperation with the state.
Moitra said: “We have had an excellent journey with the state so far and we are quite impressed with the way the state and UNICEF has worked.
“We are happy with the kind of changes that have happened and we have been able to deliver together and we are looking forward to more areas of working together.”
Moitra urged the state government to do more toward improving its indices in the areas of water and sanitation and school enrollment.
He noted that the review affords the state and UNICEF the opportunity to work out improved ways of planning and implementing UNICEF supported programs in the state.
“We will be looking into states 2017 budget, with the objective that UNICEF programme and plans are integrated into them.”
The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Budget and Planning, Alhaji Mohammed Mustapha, reiterated the government’s commitment toward implementation of donor agency projects.
Mustapha lauded UNICEF and other stakeholders for their unflinching support to the state, particularly in the area of children and maternal well being.
UNICEF works in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation and communication in Niger State.