UNICEF on Thursday said 1.3 million of Edo population still practised open defecation, and attributed it to low level awareness on healthy living and sanitation among residents.
Mrs Mohsema Ishan, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist in the world body, made this known in Benin at a sensitization on the implementation of WASH project for stakeholders.
She said that children needed water, sanitation and hygiene to survive, adding that much needed to be done in Edo to improve access to potable drinking water.
Ishan said that six out of 10 households either had their drinking water from contaminated sources or got it contaminated during handling.
She called on community leaders to effectively sensitise their subjects on the need to embrace good sanitation culture and eschew open defecation.
The UNICEF official disclosed that 495 rural communities in five selected local government areas in the state would benefit from EU-UNICEF Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP).
Earlier, the state’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources had said that three other local government areas would benefit from ongoing N600 million-EU-UNICEF Rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene Project in the state.
The Commissioner in the ministry, Mr Yekini Idaiye, named the council areas as Orhionmwon and Uhunmwode in Edo South and Owan-West in Edo North senatorial districts, respectively.
Idaiye, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Akongie Oboh, said that WASH was being implemented under the EU-UNICEF- NDSP to improve rural sanitation institutions in the state.
He said that the project was already running well in Estako West and Ovia South-West areas of the state and would be extended to the three identified local government areas to take development closer to the grassroots.
Idaiye said that the present administration had invested N600 million in the WASH project and called on benefitting communities in the new council areas to embrace the programme with an open mind and key into it.
He urged stakeholders at the meeting to build toilets and stop open defecation, and protect all government investments in their domain.