Make shift structure put up by communities to check open defecation

By Ndidi Chukwu

In Nigeria, only Obanliku and Yakur Local governments in Cross Rivers State as well as Dass Local government in Bauchi  State are open defecation free out of 774 Local Governments in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund  (UNICEF) has said.

It also said one in four Nigerians lack access to basic toilet.

At a media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Port Harcourt on Monday, UNICEF Chief of WASH, Zaid Jurji said there is a huge challenge in water and sanitation in Nigeria because only 20.4% of the population have access to basic water and sanitation services.

Jurji said about 47 million Nigerians still practise   open defecation—human faeces disposal in the open fields, forests, bushes and water—while an estimated 39 million of the nation’s population still have unimproved sanitation.

“There is still unimproved latrines—no hygienic separation of human faeces from human contact,” said Jurji, adding that most Nigerians  do not know the implications of open defecation to their health.

Nigeria is also cited to have the second largest number of people who defecates in the open globally and largest in Africa in the last 15 years.

Jurji said poor political commitment to eradicate open defecation is one of the reasons only three out of 774 local governments have been certified open defecation free since 2012 UNICEF’s European Union WASH project started in Nigeria.

“The sanitation sector in Nigeria is severely under-resourced, sanitation is only 19% of WASH budget, there is limited state funding, low budget expenditure in rural areas and poor accountability and governance,” he said.

According to Eliana Drakopoulos, UNICEF Chief of Communications, Nigeria has estimated 93 million children out of 198 million population and nearly 1 million children under 5 die every year due to preventable causes.

She said, “Eradication of open defecation and improvement of sanitation could prevent more children from dying.”