Data from the Multiple Clusters Indicator Survey (MICS) and JMP have shown that access to basic sanitation has steadily reduced in Nigeria between year 2000 and 2015, while open defecation has worsened between 2010 and 2015.
Stating this during a two day media dialogue on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Anambra State earlier in the week, a Research Specialist, United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF), Mainga Moono Banda said so far, about 130 million Nigerians use unimproved sanitation facilities, adding that more than half of that figure live in rural areas.
They said with the steady decline, Nigeria may not meet the 2030 target of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water sanitation and hygiene, except something drastic is put in place.
â€œOf the 180 million Nigerians in the country, about 75.8 per cent of the citizens who live in rural areas practice open defecation, making the country the third highest nation with open defecation globally. This directly results to the death of about 45,000 people every year in the country.
â€œTarget six in the SDG is specific on WASH. It says by 2030, all countries should achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. Also, by 2030, nations should achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene, and end open defecation,â€ Banda said, noting that special attention should be placed on women, girls, and those in vulnerable situations.
While emphasising that Nigeria is doing well in areas of water supply, she said the major concern should be on addressing sanitation as millions of homes in rural areas in the country still lack latrine, TP taps, basic hand washing tools, among others.
â€œPoor WASH can cause myriads of problems, including death. A mother who just delivered can infect her baby by mere carrying the baby if her hands are not properly washed. With proper hygiene, the woman can help prevent the baby from sepsis or deaths by about 15 per cent.
â€œPoor WASH can affect school attendance because a child who is infected with bouts of diarrhea can end up becoming undernourished, and on the long run may lead to stunting, poor attendance in school. It can also lead to poor learning in school.â€
She also explained that with good sanitation women and girls gain their dignity, adding that girls lose self esteem and avoid school because of difficulty in managing their menstrual cycle.
She therefore noted that UNICEF will continue to pay special attention to WASH and health facilities in its focus areas.
Meanwhile, the Programme Manager, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Ministry of Public Utilities and Water Resources, Anambra State, Ezekwo Victor said the state government was committed to WASH, adding that Governor Willie Obiano has rehabilitated 116 non functional boreholes across the state.
â€œWe have also completed 33 water supply schemes, the compilation of phase 11 rehabilitation works for non functional boreholes, among others.â€