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World Toilet Day: Nigeria ranked worst in Sub-Saharan Africa for urban sanitation

As WaterAid Nigeria calls for action

Environmental agency, WaterAid Nigeria has made a shocking revelation that 58 million of 700 million urban dwellers around the world living without basic sanitation are Nigerians.

It also revealed that 13.5 million people living in Nigeria’s towns and cities have no choice but to defecate in the open using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags dubbed ‘flying toilets.’

Therefore, to mark the World Toilet Day, which was held on Saturday, November 19, WaterAid Nigeria has called on government to keep its promise to deliver universal access to sanitation, following the release of new analysis showing it ranks third in the world and worst in Sub-Saharan Africa for having the most urban-dwellers living without a safe, private toilet.

During his remarks, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said that “Our analysis shows just how many nations in the world are failing to give sanitation the political prioritisation and financing required, with Nigeria featuring strongly at the top of that list.

“WaterAid’s Overflowing Cities: The State of the World Toilets report looks at the problem of urban sanitation and the health threats to our world, as the UN predicts by 2050, two-thirds of the global population will live in towns and cities. Nigeria too has a huge population and extremely rapid rural–urban migration; however, economic development and urban planning have not kept pace with the sheer volumes of people arriving – and being born – every day in its towns and cities.

“The report highlights the challenges facing 700 million urban dwellers around the world living without basic sanitation, 58 million of whom are in Nigeria. The problem is so big that 13.5 million people living in Nigeria’s towns and cities have no choice but to defecate in the open using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags dubbed ‘flying toilets.’

“Nigeria also ranks top in the countries falling furthest behind in reaching people with urban sanitation. For every urban dweller reached with sanitation since 2,000, two were added to the number living without, an increase of 31 million people in the past 15 years.”

Other findings on Nigeria in the report also revealed that the country is third, after India and China, on a list of top 10 countries with the most urban dwellers without safe, private toilets (by numbers).

With the theme, ‘Toilets and Jobs,’ the annual event this year highlights the fact that improved sanitation impacts not only health but livelihoods too, and has the potential to transform societies and economies by amongst other things, creating new green jobs and a healthier, more sustainable future.

“Current evidence shows that working days lost to poor sanitation costs the global economy approximately $4 billion per year. Loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to five per cent of GDP. A lack of access to sanitation cost the global economy $222.9 billion in 2015, up from $182.5 billion in 2010, a rise of 22 per cent in just five years.”

The agency has therefore called out to the Nigerian government to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and birthing centres have safe toilets, clean running water and functional handwashing facilities, to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths and strengthen children’s ability to attend school.