Over 80 million people, representing over 40 percent of Nigeria’s population still defecate unhygienically with N455 billion lost annually to poor sanitation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented.
Speaking during a workshop to intimate journalists on the danger of open defecation in the country, Bioye Ogunjobi, a UNICEF Specialist quoted a recent report that showed that 47 millions people openly defecate in the country with additional 33 million using unimproved toilets.
Ogunjobi, who spoke to journalists selected across the North to sensitize them on the ongoing campaign by UNICEF and the European Union: ‘Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet Campaign’, lamented that Nigeria ranks second among countries practicing open defecation globally.
He revealed that open defecation has an economic, social and health impact on national development.
He lamented that Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of GDP annually due to poor sanitation and a third of this was as a result of open defecation.
He said: “You see the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with support from UNICEF Nigeria and other development partners, and in partnership with inter-ministerial agencies, civil society organisations, the media, the private sector and the people of Nigeria, is currently leading the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign to end open defecation by 2025 and achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation.”
He said: “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” is an ambitious behaviour-change campaign in Nigeria with a strong citizen engagement component. Leveraging on what is currently working (best practice) in states with Local Government Areas (LGAs) and communities certified as ODF, this campaign is a national movement hinged on policy advocacy, public advocacy, and private sector engagement.”
He therefore said that Nigeria need to add two million toilets per year between 2019 and 2025 to achieve the Universal Basic Sanitation target.
He then appeal to the media houses, traditional rulers as well as religious leaders to support the UNICEF and government agencies in advocating the uses of toilet and sanitation system.