The country director of WaterAid Nigeria, Dr. Chi-Chi Aniagolu-Okoye, has claimed that over 120 million Nigerians lacked access to decent toilets while about 40 million others practise open defecation.
This, she said, contributed to the deaths of nearly 60, 000 unde-five children annually from diarrhoea, which she described as one of the highest numbers in the world.
Aniagolu-Okoye stated this in Abuja yesterday at the 2018 World Toilet Day (WTD) celebration with the theme: ”When Nature Calls”, noted that Nigeria ranks third in the world with the most number of individuals without access to decent toilets.
She said that WaterAid’s 2018 state of the World’s toilet report revealed that 52 percent of schools in Nigeria do not have toilet even as 62 million children lacked decent toilets at home.
The country director, who was represented by the communication officer of WaterAid, Ms Blessing Sani, appealed to the federal government to prioritise sanitation for all since the education and health of millions of children are threatened by lack of access to toilets at schools and at home.
At the event, the minister of environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibril, said that the annual cholera outbreak in some states in Nigeria and the recurrence of other excreta-related diseases were manifestations of inadequate toilet facilities.
He said that the federal government remained committed to addressing the sanitation challenges including ending open defecation as well as ensuring proper management of excreta.
The minister who was represented by director, Reform Coordination and Service Improvement in the ministry, Mrs/ Margaret Akinmuko, hinted that the community- based waste management programme such as the clean-and-green programme of the ministry are targeted at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets in the country.
On his part, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Leon Lawrence Aliboh, stated that sanitation like education and health is a fundamental building block in the fight against national poverty and preventable diseases.
Aliboh who was represented by the director of Special Duties, Mr. Mohammed Yakubu, noted that the ministry in its efforts to improve sanitation in the country is reviewing the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy.
The coordinator of Grassroots Environmental Healthcare Initiative (GEHI) in the FCT, Chidiebere Eucharia Obi, said that the group has obtained approval from relevant authorities to extend the sanitation project to all the 62 public secondary schools in Abuja.