UNICEF says 47 Million Nigerians Practice Open Defecation

UNICEF says 47 Million Nigerians Practice Open Defecation

The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, has said 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation. This was disclosed yesterday during a two-day media dialogue on sanitation. The event was titled Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign. This number accounts for 24.4 percent of the nation's citizens. 

The event was organized in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information, UNICEF, and supported by the European Union, UKaid, in Ibadan, Oyo State. UNICEF Water and Sanitation, WASH, Specialist, Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi said Nigeria now ranks 2nd in open defecation in the world and 1st in Africa. Ogunjobi made reference to statistics from the country’s 2018 WASH NORM report. He also explained that out of the 47 million Nigerians, 16 million of them live in the North Central part of the country. Nigerians practice open defecation because of poverty.

Lamenting that one out of 4 Nigerians defecates in the open, he added that 32 million Nigerians have no access to improved toilets. So there was a need for political will in order to achieve the 2025 target of making Nigeria open defecation free.

“Currently, only 13 local government areas from four States of Bauchi, Benue, Cross River and Jigawa are open defecation free. We have to mobilize the entire country otherwise the 2025 target will be impossible. Currently 102, 000 children die annually due to sanitation-related diseases."

According to him, North Central states lead in open defecation with 53.9 per cent, followed by South West with 28.0 per cent, South East 22.4 per cent, South-South 17.9 per cent and North East 10.3 per cent.

He said increased and well targeted WASH funding at all levels especially for rural areas will help improve sanitation as well as improve the country’s chances of attaining the 2025 target. In his welcome address, Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information, Mr. Olumide Osanyipeju said the Nigerian government has declared a state of emergency on WASH Nigeria and launched an Open Defecation Free, ODF, campaign strategy to jump-start the country’s journey towards ending open defecation.

“The Federal Ministry of Water Resources got support from UNICEF, in partnership with Inter-Ministerial Agencies and Civil Society Partners. Other partners were the Private Sector, and Nigeria. They are currently leading the ODF campaign to end open defecation in the country by 2025. Also to achieve universal access to safely manage sanitation by 2030. “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign is one of the most ambitious behaviour-change campaigns in Nigeria. The campaign to end open defecation is a key initiative that will reach many unserved populations.

“Sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children. It can reduce the severity and impact of malnutrition. It can also help in reducing the spread of intestinal worms, as well as promoting dignity and boosting safety, particularly among women and children. Sanitation standards are supposed to ensure that people do not suffer adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when needed. Proper sanitation facilities promote health because it allows people to dispose off their waste appropriately.


Effects of Open Defecation

Nigerians practice open defecation

The effects of open defecation, according to experts, are very depressing. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, open defecation is connected to water-borne diseases.

When people defecate near waterways, it enters into the water system. The contaminated water ends up in the main water source. When people use this water for drinking and cooking, it results in water-borne diseases. Some of them are cholera, typhoid and trachoma.

Open defecation also causes vector-borne diseases. Experts say apart from water-borne diseases, when the human waste collects into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects. These flies then travel around the surrounding areas, carrying defecate matters and disease-causing microbes when they then land on food and drinks that people ingest unknowingly. In such cases, the flies act as direct transmitters of diseases such as cholera.

 With diarrhoea, for instance, it means that people cannot make their way to distant places due to the urgency of their calls of nature, so they pass waste close to where they have their bowel attacks.

It simply ends up creating more of the same problems that started the disease and, in turn, leads to more people contracting more diseases and fewer people using the facilities. The result of this is more sick people and more opportunities for the disease to spread.

UNICEF says 47 Million Nigerians Practice Open Defecation

Open defecation also leads to malnutrition in children. Once a child is infected with one of the diseases of bad sanitation, they begin to lose a lot of fluids and lack the appetite for food. As a result, it gives rise to many cases of malnutrition in children.

Meanwhile, the situation is worse because of intestinal worm attacks passed through human waste. Altogether, these problems lead to stunted growth and weakened immune system. These make the child more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The environment also suffers as a result of open defecation. It introduces toxins and bacteria into the ecosystem in amounts that it cannot handle at a time. This leads to build-up of filth.

The load of microbes can become so great that, in the end, they end up in aquatic systems. Thus, they will cause harm to aquatic life. Nigerians practice open defecation out of ignorance of these problems that result from the act.


Also read: 1.9 Million Nigerian, Other African Families Spend 40 Percent Of Non-food Expenses On Maternal Health

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