19 Nov 2014

UNICEF says many Pacific countries need to improve sanitary conditions

6:57 pm on 19 November 2014

The UNICEF Pacific Representative says many Pacific countries desperately need to improve their toilet and sanitiation conditions.

Karen Allen says World Toilet Day is a reminder that a clean and safe toilet ensures health, dignity and well-being.

Dr Allen says access to water and sanitation in schools varies across the Pacific with countries like Niue and Palau have total access while Kiribati has only 2.5 percent.

She says slow progress on sanitation and the entrenched practice of open defecation continue to put children and communities at risk.

Open defecation typically has links with high rates of diarrhoea and growth stunting.

In the Pacific open defecation rates are high, especially in Kiribati with 37 percent and Solomon Islands with 18 percent.

In terms of sanitation coverage the Pacific has the slowest rate of progress in the world and at 30 percent, it is tied with Sub-Saharan Africa as having the lowest level of improved sanitation coverage.