Nigeria is losing a whopping sum of N455 billion out of N143,213,450,337.56 trillion ($397,270,000), representing 1.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually, due to poor sanitation and a third of that cost to open defecation, a survey has revealed.
The 2018 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) National Outcome Routine Mapping, World Health Organisation/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation Survey revealed that Nigeria ranks second among countries practicing open defecation globally, after India.
The survey further stated that more than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to diarrhoea, of which 90 per cent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
If Nigeria can add two million toilets per year between 2019 and 2025, the target of Universal Basic Sanitation would be achieved, thereby saving the country N455 billion, representing 1.3 per cent of its GDP that is lost to poor sanitation, the survey stated.
WASH specialist, UNICEF, Bioye Ogunjobi, at a media dialogue on Sanitation, Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign sponsored by European Union and UKaid in collaboration with UNICEF, in Oyo state on Tuesday, said 1020 children die in Nigeria from diseases caused by poor sanitation.
Ogunjobi said 47 million Nigerians, representing 24.4 per cent of the population of Nigeria still do open defecation and 32 million people in Nigeria are still using unimproved toilet. “Almost 80 million people need support of an improved latrine/toilet,” he added.
He said 10.3 per cent of people living in North West practice open defecation; 17.9 per cent of people living in South- South practice open defecation; 21.8 per cent of people living in North East practice open defecation; 53.9 per cent living in North central practice open defecation; 22.4 per cent of people living in South East practice open defecation and 28.0 per cent of people living in South West practice open defecation.
While one out of four Nigerians practice open defecation, Ogunjobi said in the North Central, it is one out of two persons.
He added that only 13 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria are certified open defecation free.
He however urged the government to increase sanitation budgetary allocation and the private sector to compliment government’s efforts in curbing open defecation.
In his response, Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Abuja, Mr Olumide Osanyipeju, urged the private sector and other stakeholders to come on board so as to improve sanitation and hygiene situation in Nigeria.
‘’It is a fact that UNICEF has been in the forefront of ensuring that Nigeria has access to safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in our environment and communities’’, Osanyipeju said.
He said recently, Nigerian government declared a state of emergency on WASH and launched an open free defecation campaign strategy to jump start the countries journey towards ending open defecation.
Osanyipeju said the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme was formulated and launched in 2016 in direct response to challenges affecting the rural WASH sector, with the aim of achieving 100 percent WASH coverage in rural areas.
He said, “Nigeria is currently leading open defecation free campaign to end open defecation in the country by 2025 and achieve universal access to safety manage sanitation by 2023. Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilets Campaign is one of the most ambitious behaviour change and campaign in Nigeria with a strong citizen /public engagement component.”
This campaign, according to Osanyipeju, will create a national movement with elements of policy advocacy, public advocacy and grassroots mobilisation, adding that private sector engagement sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children as it can reduce the severity and impact of malnutrition.
It can also help to reduce spread of worms as well as promoting dignity and boosting safety, particularly women and children, Osanyipeju, adding that open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of diseases and poverty.
He however called on stakeholders to join hands with the federal government to achieve its goal to achieve the Universal Basic Sanitation and end open defecation by 2030. He said, “We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030.”
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