Following reports that Nigeria is the second largest number of people defecating in the open globally and has the largest number in Africa, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has urged the federal Government to take urgent action to implement open defecation roadmap and initiate law to promote sanitation in the country.
UNICEF Chief WASH Officer, Zaid Jurji who disclosed this at a two-day Media dialogue on European Union (EU) Niger Delta Water project in Port Harcourt, said about N455billiion is lost annually by Nigeria due to poor sanitation.
According to him, open defecation costs the country $1billion every year even as N95.9billion is needed yearly till 2025 to eliminate open defecation in Nigeria.
He noted that 47 million Nigerians practice open defection adding that this puts Nigeria as number one in Africa on the open defecation index.
Jurji pointed out that Without toilets, people are forced to defecate in the open leading to exposure to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, viral hepatitis, typhoid, polio and dysentery.
According to him, 122,000 Nigerians, including 87,000 children under 5 die each year from diarrhea and nearly 90per cent is directly attributed to lack of portable water, sanitation and hygiene.
He stressed that open defecation is seen as a social stigma in many countries including Nigeria and also results in increased risks of insecurity and lack of privacy.
Jurji who stated that the sanitation sector in Nigeria is severely underfunded, observed that by investing in sanitation, Nigeria stands to gain N359.1billion ever year, adding that sanitation needs to be prioritized on the Federal and state government agenda and declared a state of emergency.
He observed that communities, schools, all tiers of government, religious and traditional leaders must work together to eliminate open defecation in the country.
Also speaking, representative of the Minister of Information and Culture, Temitoye Falayi said the programme was organized to ensure increased media advocacy for improved water, sanitation and hygiene.
Source: The Guardian