Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that the Nigerian government loses N455b annually due to poor sanitation and with a third of that cost as a result of open defecation in which Nigeria ranks second globally after India.
It also stated that according to the findings from the latest Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey, 47 million people, a 24 per cent
of the population, practice open defecation.
In its 2019 latest bulletin which champions “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet”, the children’s fund disclosed that more than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to diarrhea, of which 90 percent was directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
It recalled that in November 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency in WASH sector, reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment for eliminating open defecation in the country, and launched a national campaign to jump start the country’s journey towards becoming Open Defecation Free by 2025.
It said:” Open defecation has an economic, social and health impact on national development. Nigeria loses about 1.3 per cent (N455b) of GDP annually due to poor sanitation and a third of that cost is as a result of open defecation.
“More than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to diarrhea, of which 90 per cent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
“Leveraging on what is currently working in states and local government areas and communities certified as ODF, this campaign is a national movement hinged in policy advocacy, public advocacy, and private sector engagement.”
So far, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with support from UNICEF Nigeria and other development partners, and in partnership with inter-ministerial agencies, civil societies and the private sector among others, is currently leading the campaign to end open defecation by 2025 and achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation.