A global survey has identified Nigeria as the second in the world among countries where open defecation is prevalent.
Only India ranked worse than Nigeria in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH NORM) survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics took part in the Nigerian survey, an official said.
Apart from Nigeria, five other African countries are among the worst 10 where open defecation is prevalent. They include Ethiopia (3rd), Niger (7th), Sudan (8th), Chad (9th) and Mozambique (10th).
Other countries in the worst 10 are Indonesia (4th), Pakistan (5th), and China (6th).
A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi, spoke about the survey on Tuesday in Ibadan.
He spoke at a workshop on ‘Clean Nigeria: Use The Toilet campaign’ funded by the European Union and UKaid, and implemented by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
According to Mr Ogunjobi, 47 million Nigerians, representing 24.4 per cent of the population, still practice open defecation.
Mr Ogunjobi said only 12 per cent of markets and motor parks in Nigeria have WASH facilities while 20 per cent have provided a place for washing of hands.
He said 32 million Nigerians are using unimproved toilets and do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation.
According to him, only six per cent of primary schools have access to gender-sensitive toilets and WASH services in Nigeria.
“The global standard for every primary school is to have a gender-sensitive toilet. The global standard is one toilet to twenty pupils but now, we have over forty people to one toilet, “he said
Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside rather than into a toilet. People may choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches, streets, canals or other open space for defecation.
Premium times earlier reported how open defecation is the norm in many higher institutions of learning in Nigeria because the toilet facilities are not properly managed.
The World Health Organisation says open defecation pollutes the environment and causes health problems. It linked it to the high prevalence of water-borne infectious diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis A, among others, and high child mortality, poor nutrition and poverty in the country.
Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its advisory campaign said open defecation is one of the major causes of cholera in the country.
With the rainy season every year comes an increase in cholera cases across Nigeria.
UNICEF said only 13 of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria are free from the practice of open defecation
In November 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.
He reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to eliminating open defecation by the 2025.
However, despite the declaration by the president, 47 million people still defecate in the open while 32 million use unimproved toilets.