The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said that about 48 million Nigerians comprising 23 percent of the population still practice open defecation with no access to toilet facilities in their environs.
The UNICEF Maiduguri Wash Manager, Mamita Bora Thakkar, disclosed this in Maiduguri on Friday during a media dialogue in commemoration of the 2023 Word Toilet Day with the theme: ‘Accelerating Change’, to highlight the journey towards achieving SDG 6-Clean Water and Sanitation.
She noted that it is only seven years remaining to 2030 on the global target for Universal Access to Toilets of the SDGs, warning that poor hygiene practice surrounding the use of toilets is one of the common causes of diseases in the country.
She said World Toilet Day is celebrated every year on 19th November to bring attention to the undeniable importance of safe and hygienic toilets in daily activities, especially in terms of health, education and socio-economic development.
She explained that lack of sanitation has a profound impact on public health, economic productivity, environmental integrity, and educational attainment especially for girls and women who are disproportionately affected by deplorable sanitation conditions.
“We need to undertake appropriate climate adaptation measures to ensure our sanitation initiatives do not impact the climate negatively.
“Sanitation and drinking water are human rights, and access to these services is critical to people’s health and the integrity of the environment.
“Everyone should have access to a toilet connected to a sanitation system that effectively removes and treats human waste. But we are seriously off track to meet this target. We must work on average five times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030.
“The State of Borno has made significant progress in getting the first two local government areas as Open Defecation Free, last year. This momentum needs to be sustained, with accelerated efforts to bring more LGAs under the ODF campaign. Sanitation results can be achieved if it’s a high administrative and political priority if adequate budgets are released if capacities are built at every level and a deadline is followed.
“For the State to become totally Open Defecation Free, it will require investments, to ensure capacities are built, access to the supplies and services in public places are ensured and ODF status is sustained in the communities. It also requires leadership at all levels,” Thakker said.
The Acting Director Sanitation Borno RUWASSA, Tijjani Babagana, said that Nigeria is targeting to achieve Open Defecation Free by 2025.
“Presently, two LGAs in Borno State, Biu and Shani have achieved Open Defecation Free and the state is targeting three more LGAs of Bayo, Kwaya Kusar and Hawul by the first quarter of 2024.
“We intend to visit public institutions and support them with soaps and other disinfectants such as izal and hand sanitizers”, he said.