Over 46m Nigerians still use open defecation – UNICEF

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Regis Amauche/Enugu

United Nations children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Ibrahim Conteh, says that 46m Nigerians still defecate in the open.

Conteh stated this on the occasion of a one-day media dialogue organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State on commemoration of World Toilet Day held at Enugu over the weekend.

He said that states with the highest rates of open defecation include Kwara, Plateau, and Ebonyi. Conteh represented by Maureen Zubi Okoro also noted that the lowest rates are Abia, Zamfara, and Akwa Ibom states.

He explained that, “there has been some progress on ending open defecation, with 71 out of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas now declared “open defecation”.

“The states with the highest number of open defecation-free local council areas are Katsina (21), Jigawa (18) and Benue nine. “Nigeria is making some progress in improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene services to its population, with 75 per cent of Nigerians having access to basic drinking water services- up from 70 per cent in 2019”.

Conteh explained  thus, “It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that all Nigerians have access to safe toilets and that we shift closer to ensuring open defecation across the country”.

 Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, Communication Officer, UNICEF, Enugu, while introducing objectives of the meeting said it was to engage and equip journalists from the Enugu Field Office with recent data on water sanitation and hygiene with reference to toilets and sanitation.

She further noted that it was also to have journalists develop action plans on stories that will motivate governments, communities/families to value toilets.

In a goodwill message, Anthony Onyia, Special Adviser on Water Resources to Enugu State Governor said that the state government had done much to provide decent toilets and safe water to residents.  Onyia commended UNICEF for its efforts to ensure that the state became open-defecation-free.  

Another resource person, Sam-Adejoh Okedi, who spoke on valuing toilets and tackling the global sanitation menace, said that the situation has gone into crisis as only 74 out of 774 local governments in Nigeria are open dedication-free.

He however called for market-based sanitation approach where private sector would be involved instead of programme-based approach.

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