Over 28% of Residents in Nigeria Still Practice Open Defecation, Says FG

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Official records state that 28.7 of the population of people in Nigeria still practice open defecation. Only 34 per cent of people have access to improved sanitation facilities, 30 per cent have access to shared facilities, and 46.1 per cent to non-improved.

Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Hussaini Adamu gave these statistics in his presentation ‘National Priorities on Sanitation and Hygiene’, at the Water Supply and Sanitation Consultative Council (WSSCC) Stakeholders’ Consultation Workshop in Abuja, recently.

Also present at the workshop, were a representative of the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, Chair, WSSCC; Wash Ambassador and WSSCC Global Steering Committee Member, Engr. Ebele Okeke, a former Head of Service of Nigeria; Liz Wamera, WSSCC Geneva; WSSCC National Coordinator-Nigeria, Priscilla Achakpa; Members of WSSCC; and CSOs.

According to the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Hussaini Adamu, lack of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) affects development and the economy, adding that WASH provides opportunities for every child to develop.

Regrettably, Adamu said 272 million school days were lost each year due to diarrhoea; 400 million school children have diminished learning abilities due to intestinal worm infections and that a girl could miss up to 10-20% of her school days.

Quoting UNICEF, the minister said, “Poor sanitation costs Nigeria the equivalent of 1.3 per cent of GDP.” He explained that $243 million is lost each year in access time, because each person, practicing open defecation, spends almost 25 days a year finding a private location to defecate, leading to large economic losses. “This cost falls disproportionately on women, as daughters who may spend additional time accompanying young children or sick or elderly relatives. This cost is likely to be an underestimation, as those without toilets, particularly women, will be obliged to find a private location for urination as well.”

The records also show that millions of dollars is lost to productivity losses while sick or accessing healthcare.

The minister noted that there was movement from modest aspiration under MDG to universal access under SDG, adding that MDG Goal- 6: is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030, stating the “Vision for Nigeria: All Nigerians everywhere have sustainable access to water and sanitation by 2030.”

Adamu stated that current efforts being made included, resource mobilisation for the sector through the Global Sanitation Fund for RUSHPIN implementation; Development of the National Roadmap for Making Nigeria Open Defecation Free by 2025; Conceptualisation of PEWASH as a strategy for sector coordination and implementation of the National Roadmap through resource mobilisation from
governments, donors, private sector, communities and households; Establishment/Strengthening of appropriate institutions at national and sub-national levels for effective implementation and coordination of sanitation delivery (NTGS, STGS, LTGS, RUWASSA, LGA WASH Dept,
WASHCOMs, etc); and Establishment of learning and sharing platform (e.g Roundtable Conference on CLTS, etc).

Plans underway, he said are: Harmonisation of Sanitation Policies and domestication at sub-national levels; Incorporation of CLTS and other emerging sanitation approaches into school curriculum, including higher institutions (Colleges of Health Technology/Polytechnics & Universities); Promotion of visibility for Sanitation through documentation/Human Interest Stories and Media campaign; and Advocate for increased investment for scaling up of successful models across the country.

On RUSHPIN (Rural Sanitation and Hygiene
Promotion in Nigeria) Appraisal, he noted the WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund grant of $5m for implementation of sanitation programme; Development of Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) programme; Implementation covers six LGAs in Benue and Cross River States, stating that the programme is proving to be a model for up-scaling rural sanitation and that advocacy for contribution of counterpart funds by Federal, State and Local Governments were ongoing.

The minister listed the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (PEWASH) 2016 – 2030: Goal and Objective.

He said the Goal is: To contribute to improvements in public health and eradication of poverty in Nigeria through equitable and sustainable WASH interventions and that the Objective is: “To prioritise the achievement of 100% access to water supply and improved sanitation in rural areas by the year 2030, and eliminate open defecation by 2025 (within the SDG 6).

On the proposed direction for WSSCC in Nigeria, he said it would serve as sectorial knowledge management hub for sanitation; Support national media campaign on sanitation and hygiene; Provide/secure more grant for the sector to scale-up RUSHPIN Programme to more States and LGAs; Support investment in water supply component; Provide technical guidance on emerging sectorial issues such as Menstrual Hygiene Management and Sanitation.

“The contribution of the WSSCC through the Global Sanitation Fund grant is very helpful and appreciated; Our Ministry is receptive and welcome future sector collaboration; and we are totally combined to actualising the realization of the SDG 6 towards providing sustainable water supply and adequate sanitation for the wellbeing of our citizens,” the minister said.

In a keynote address, the Chair, Steering Committee, WSSCC, and the Minister of Environment, Ms Amina Mohammed said, “As part of my Ministry’s Clean and Green Campaign, we are promoting ending open defecation in urban cities with particular focus on public spaces.

“Diseases resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene are one of the leading causes of death in children in Africa and indeed the cause of many preventable deaths across all age groups within our communities. The Federal Ministry of Health is therefore a very important stakeholder and has public health programmes supported by the World Health Organisation. It has a mandate to promote improved sanitation and good hygiene practices to
ensure the wellbeing of the nation.”

She said UNICEF has provided support to the National Bureau of Statistics in the collection of data that gives us an excellent platform to know where we are coming from, where we are, what we can achieve and the timeframe for us to achieve our goals. The UNICEF supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) undertaken in the past and the currently on-going MICS for 2016 are all indispensable tools for the sanitation agenda.

“Our mantra should now be partnership and teamwork. We need to work together, by ensuring cohesion across all of our specific mandates, in further developing and fine-tuning the Nigerian Sanitation Agenda. And together, with synergy, we can go very far!

“In this regard, The National Task Group on Sanitation has a very important role to play and should be accorded the support of all.

“We, at the Federal Ministry of Environment look forward to strengthening partnerships with all sector players, from the Ministries of Water Resources, Health, Women Affairs, Education and all other Government MDAs with mandates or interests in the promotion of improved sanitation and good hygiene practices in Nigeria.

“Civil Society networks are an indispensable source of contribution in achieving the vision of a Nigeria where everybody has sustained water supply, improved sanitation and good hygiene practices.”

The minister said Development Partners and donor agencies should now, more than ever, look towards the Paris Declaration principle of aligning their programmes with National Agendas.
“So while recognising the roles all stakeholders can bring to the table, let us ensure cohesion and synergy in the Nigerian Sanitation Agenda, let us aim high and lets achieve our goals!”
She lauded “the very good people all over Nigeria that are diligently working towards ensuring a Nigeria where everybody has sustained water supply and sanitation, a vision which we firmly aspire to achieve and hold very dear to our hearts.

“I thank also the entire team, led by Ms Priscilla that is promoting the activities of WSSCC in Nigeria for all their efforts, hard work and dedication.”