By Eric Ojo

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has said that nearly 800 children die globally every day from diarrhea caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

In addition, for children under five, water and sanitation-related diseases are among the leading causes of preventable death. Consequently, 288,000 children under this age bracket die globally from diarrhea infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation every year..

Similarly, toilets play a crucial role in keeping children healthy, preventing the spread of disease, and allowing them to live with dignity. However, 2.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation facilities, including 892 million people who have no choice but to defecate in the open. Open defecation is one of the clearest signs of extreme poverty and inequality.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, who made this disclosure, said UNICEF recently signed a new partnership agreement with LIXIL, a maker of pioneering water and housing products and GROHE, the world’s leading provider of sanitary fittings, in order to help vulnerable children gain access to safe and clean toilets.

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The new partnership is among UNICEF’s most ambitious to date. It signals a new way that UNICEF is working with companies that engages their core business, at various levels, to achieve significant advances for children. It is UNICEF’s first global shared-value partnership in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and the first of its kind with a Japanese company.

“Through this innovative partnership with LIXIL, we hope to help keep every child healthy and alive”, the UNICEF Executive Director said.

Speaking in a similar vein, LIXIL Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kinya Seto said in many countries, this ‘sanitation crisis’ has devastating consequences for public health and reduces children’s opportunities for the future, as many drop out of school because there is nowhere to go to the bathroom.

“As a global leader in sanitary products and with a unique brand of products known as SATO that are specifically designed for developing markets, we recognize the opportunity to improve the quality of life for people everywhere by raising sanitation standards, creating genuine social value”, he added.

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The partnership, named “Make a Splash! Toilets for All”, will leverage the two organizations’ complementary strengths to support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation by 2030.

The success of the partnership in expanding access to sanitation, according to a statement made available to Metro Daily will also help to encourage more players to enter and expand the market.

Meanwhile, UNICEF and LIXIL have already successfully worked together in Africa to provide people in need of toilets with access to sanitation products, designed by LIXIL to fit local conditions. The success led the partners to explore ways to expand their collaboration to improve sanitation for all.

As part of this new partnership, UNICEF and LIXIL will, launch market-driven programmes to help establish a sanitation economy and ensure that sanitation products are available at affordable prices for the people who need them, starting in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya.

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In addition, both parties will also engage in joint advocacy efforts that will draw attention to the significant development opportunities presented by the sanitation economy. Moreover, fundraising and engagement activities by LIXIL will further support the expansion of the partnership to new countries.