Maternal, child health outcomes to receive boost in Lagos State

13 July 2022
Maternal and child health

15 June 2022, Nigeria – WaterAid Nigeria, with support from the Kimberly Clark Corporation, has today launched a two-year project targeted at fostering maternal and child health by improving hygiene behaviours among vulnerable populations in Ikorodu North and Ojodu Local Council Development Areas of Lagos State. The ‘Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement’ project is expected to reach 45,000 people with improved sanitation and hygiene services over the two years and will focus on healthcare facilities and key community touch points with particular attention to the health and wellbeing of women, children and school age girls.

Lagos State is one of the largest cities in sub-Saharan Africa and the second-most populous in Nigeria; and like with most of sub-Saharan Africa’s large cities, rapid, unpredictable, and unplanned population growth has added pressure on already strained water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services. According to the 2019 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey, only 16% of households in Lagos State have access to basic hygiene services, where handwashing facility is available on premises and with soap and water; and only 3.5% of household members are likely to practice proper handwashing, with water and soap, at critical times such as after using the toilet, after changing child's diaper, before eating and before preparing food.

In addition, only 61.5% of households in the state have access to safely managed water supply services free of faecal coliform; only 28% of households have access to safely managed sanitation services; and only 12% of healthcare facilities have access to combined water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Contaminated household environments and risky hygiene practices account for almost 30% of the total burden of disease in developing countries like Nigeria, with children under 5 being particularly at high risk. Diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading cause of death among children under five and around 70% of diarrhoea episodes in low and middle-income countries may be food-borne and associated with unhygienic practices.[1] Nearly 90% of all diarrhoeal deaths are linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene. It is also estimated that the unsanitary disposal of child faeces may result in a 63% increase in diarrhoea.[2] Poor disposal practices have also been found to be associated with a heightened 

risk of intestinal worms, malnutrition, and death. Repeated episodes of diarrhoea in early life can in turn have a long-lasting and irreversible impact on an individual’s nutritional status.

The situation is exacerbated by the poor state of water, sanitation and hygiene services in healthcare facilities, a scenario which contributes to the spread of hospital-associated infections – with pregnant and lactating women most at risk. Improved hygiene practices by pregnant and lactating women combined with improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in healthcare centres can improve maternal and child health outcomes in Nigeria.

WaterAid Nigeria will work in partnership with government institutions, Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and civil society organisations to increase awareness about safe hygiene behaviour practices among pregnant and breastfeeding women in target communities; provide handwashing facilities and hygiene kits in public facilities such as schools, community centres, and primary healthcare centres; carry out large-scale hygiene promotion in peri-urban and remote rural communities and engage with relevant authorities in Lagos State to accelerate change by embedding hygiene behaviour change in their large-scale hygiene promotion campaign.

The project will consist of a mix of hygiene education and promotion interventions which are specifically designed, based on local context, to enlighten target communities about specific hygiene behaviours to help control the spread of infectious diseases that contribute to poor maternal and infant health outcomes in Nigeria. It will employ participatory, gender-inclusive and system strengthening approaches, leveraging on existing state and community structures to build community ownership and enhance the lifetime sustainability of the project's results.

Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said:

“Poor hygiene means infants are regularly ill and at risk of death, children miss school, adults are not able to work to support their families and spend what little money they do have on taking care of sick children. It means patients and health workers are at risk in healthcare environments, and people’s dignity is compromised. By changing their hygiene behaviours, people can protect themselves from infectious diseases, stay healthy, increase productivity and live dignified lives.

“WaterAid will continue to advocate for hygiene behaviour change that transforms lives and delivers on desired health and sanitation outcomes in Lagos State, complementing the State Government's efforts at addressing challenges in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene and contributing to better maternal and child health and overall wellbeing.”


For more information, please contact: Oluseyi Abdulmalik, WaterAid Nigeria Communications & Media Manager at or +234 8034312391

Notes to Editors:

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit , ; follow @WaterAidNigeria, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at , ,

* In Nigeria:

  • Only 9% of the population have access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
  • 60 million people (30% of the population) lack access to clean water.
  • 112 million people (56% of the population) lack decent toilets.
  • 46 million people (23% of the population) practice open defecation.
  • 167 million people (84% of the population) lack basic handwashing facilities.
  • Only 3% of schools have access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
  • Only 4% of healthcare facilities have access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
  • Only 2% of parks and markets have access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.


* 2019 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM)


[1] WHO Basic Principles for the preparation of safe food for infants and young children Geneva: World Health Organization. 1996

[2] Liu L, Johnson H, Cousens S, Perin J, Scott S, Lawn J, et al. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet. October 2012 379(9832): 2151-61