Can open defecation ever end in Nigeria?

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By Chika Onyesi

About 47 million Nigerians are estimated to still practice open defecation and this is about 24.4 per cent of the entire population representing 1 in 4 persons across the country.

Nigeria is also estimated to be no 1 in Africa and no 2 globally in Open defecation ranking

This data is according to a 2018 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH-Norm Survey), a national outcome routine marking which shows how many persons have access to sanitation facilities in communities.

According to the survey, only 64% of Nigerians have access to safe drinking water, while only 42% have access to basic sanitation services.

The survey also revealed that only 20% of Nigerians have a fixed place for hand washing with soap and only 12% of markets and motor parks have basic sanitation services.

In Nigeria also, only 6% of primary schools have basic gender sensitive sanitation services while only 5% of health facilities have basic gender sensitive WASH services.

The data was revealed at a European Union and UKAid Sponsored dialogue organised by the UNICEF to engage the media on ways to disseminate behaviour change messages to end open defecation.

The campaign tagged ‘‘Clean Nigeria, End Open Defecation’’ is part of strategies developed to get 47 million Nigerians to use toilets and increase access to improved sanitation especially in rural areas.

According to Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi, a UNICEF WASH specialist, Open Defecation cuts across all age groups and people in Nigeria and about 32 million people in the country still make use of unimproved latrine.

‘‘The use of unimproved latrine is as bad as Open Defecation, the Federal Government cannot successfully build toilets for every Nigerian, we can only achieve this through Public Private Partnership’’

‘‘Most Nigerians are yet to realise how deadly Open Defecation is to under 5 children, the public and the society at large, it is as bad as eventually drinking your shit’’ he said

According to research, the consequence of open defecation is high mortality rates among children most of whom are under 5years, disease outbreaks and public health challenges.

About 102,000 children under 5years die annually as a result of diseases caused by Open Defecation, 11% suffered diarrhoea in the past 6 weeks and 76% of these figures are children under 5.

There are also incidents of rape of women and young girls who were attacked while defecating in the bush.

This alarming index is the reason a state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene was declared in 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari, with the aim of generating strategies to contain the challenge of open defecation

The Acting Coordinator, Clean Nigerian Campaign, Mrs. Chizoma Opara said a national roadmap tagged ‘‘the clean Nigeria campaign’’ was then developed to ensure that open defecation is ended by the year 2025 in Nigeria.

Part of the effort initiated by the campaign; include the anticipation of an executive order that will see the prosecution of those found guilty of open defecation.

‘‘Nigeria has now constituted a technical working group to push the Clean Nigerian Campaign, sent delegates to India to find out what the country did to reduce the incidents of ODF and seek for high level buy in for the campaign’’

‘‘We as a country have come together to see how we can reduce that 47million, that high level delegates include UNICEF, FG, Min of Water Resources, and the water aid organisation.

 

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