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World Toilet Day: Nigerian has made little progress against open defecation

By Our Reporter

As the world celebrates World Toilet Day, UNICEF has revealed that there has been limited progress over the last two years in the fight against open defecation in Nigeria.

According to new figures soon to be released on Nigerians’ access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, the rate of open defecation in Nigeria has remained steady at 23 per cent. As many as 46 million Nigerians still defecate in the open.

The states with the highest rates of open defecation are: Kwara, Plateau, and Ebonyi.

Those with the lowest rates are: Abia, Zamfara, and Akwa Ibom.

There has been some progress on ending open defecation, with 71 out of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas now declared ‘open defection-free’ – up from 18 in 2019. The states with the highest number of ‘open defecation-free’ LGAs are Katsina, Jigawa and Benue – with 21, 18 and 9, respectively.

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.  Access to sanitation (toilet and handwashing facilities) has also increased modestly, from 44 per cent to 46 per cent over the same period.

“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 ending open defecation across the country,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “With the Clean Nigeria campaign, we are making strong efforts – but the whole country needs to put their full weight behind this campaign. We cannot afford to fail – ending open defecation is crucial to making progress in so many other areas, including health.”

In November 2018, Nigerian President Buhari declared a state of emergency in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector and launched a national campaign tagged ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ to jump-start the country’s journey towards becoming open defecation-free by 2025.

“There is a clear commitment by the Nigerian government to helping the population to move away from the practice of open defecation – a move that will help support better health outcomes for all, including especially children,” said Peter Hawkins.

“The importance of adequate and safe sanitation and proper hand hygiene practices cannot be overstated. It helps prevent illnesses that impact families’ livelihoods, and more importantly, take the lives of far too many children. We can and must achieve an open defecation-free Nigeria by 2025.”

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