UNICEF demands end to Open defecation in Nigeria

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has raised an alarm that forty seven million Nigerians still practice open defecation across the country.

This was the crux of discussion at a Two Day media dialogue on sanitation, ongoing in Ibadan, Oyo state, South western Nigeria.

According to UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, Nigeria has  the second largest number of people openly defecating globally.

In a paper tittled ‘Clean Nigeria :Use the Toilet Campaign, the UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), expert, Bioye Ogunjobi, said there is need to have sanitation facilities at various locations across the country.

He said that 32 million Nigerians  are using unimproved toilets in Nigeria.

According to him,  only 12% markets and motor parks in Nigeria have WASH facilities and fixed places for hand wash with soap and water while 32 million Nigerians are using unimproved toilets.

“Nigerians still do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation, in fact, Nigeria has second highest number of people who practice open defecation worldwide, after India. Diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and Malaria, combined with underlying malnutrition,  are responsible for most deaths of infants and children,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Grace Gekpe, who was represented by Deputy Director, Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Mr.Olumide Osanyinpeju, commended UNICEF and Eureopean Union, EU, for  being in the forefront of ensuring that Nigerians have access to safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in our environment and communities.

He noted that open defecation is dangerous and promotes spread of diseases and poverty.

“Open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Inadequate waste disposal promotes the infection cycle of many agents that can spread through contaminated soil, food, water and insects such as flies. Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition. We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030,” he said.

He also said “Open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Inadequate waste disposal promotes the infection cycle of many agents that can spread through contaminated soil, food, water and insects such as flies. Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition. We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030.”

The CRIB pointed that sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children.

He therefore urged stakeholders  to increase awareness about the impact of open defecation in Nigeria.

“The Media is a strong vehicle to communicate the message. End ODF and WASH programmes were integral parts of SDG 6. It is, therefore, critical, to intensify efforts in tackling them”, he added.

It would be recalled that in 2018 President Muhammadu Buhari,  declared  state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria.

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