Over 10 million Nigerians defecate openly ― UNICEF, WHO

Say 297, 000 children under 5 years die globally due to diarrhoea

MORE than five per cent Nigerians are practising open defecation, a new report by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the Who Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.

Going by United Nations estimate, Nigeria population stands at 200,705,014 as of Monday, June 17 2019, five per cent of which is 10,035,250.7 million people.

The Joint Monitoring Programme report on progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene released on Tuesday, June 18, also reveals that 46 per cent of Nigerians were at a very high risk and 15 per cent high risk of using drinking water with risk of faecal contamination, while 16 per cent were at moderate risk and 23 per cent low risk between 2012 and 2018.

A copy of the report sighted by Tribune Online, however, showed that Nigeria recorded more than 50 per cent overage of basic handwashing facilities in urban areas, while about 30 per cent was recorded in rural areas.

It also said that 41 per cent of Nigerians use fixed handwashing facility while 30 per cent of Nigerians use the mobile facility.

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Data from the report showed that: “The largest numbers with no handwashing facility were found in populous countries, such as Indonesia (78 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (69 million), Nigeria (49 million), Ethiopia (43 million) and India (37 million).

“In the recent WASH NORM survey in Nigeria, 76 per cent of households reported at least one household member using some kind of sanitation facility, but only 61 per cent reported all members using sanitation facilities, and just 16 per cent reported all members of all households in their community using facilities.

“60 per cent Nigerians use onsite sanitation facilities that were reportedly never emptied.

“Septic tanks and latrines from which excreta are emptied and buried in a covered pit are counted as safely managed, as long as the facilities are not shared. In Nigeria, this practice is twice as common in urban areas (20%) as in rural areas (9%).

“163 million Nigerians gained access to at least basic sanitation services between 2000 and 2017.”

The report also showed that some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.

The report reveals that 1.8 billion people have gained access to basic drinking water services since 2000, but it is estimated that 1 in 10 people (785 million) still lack basic services, including the 144 million who drink untreated surface water.

The report also says that 2.1 billion people have gained access to basic sanitation services since 2000 but in many parts of the world the wastes produced are not safely managed.

Since 2000, the proportion of the population practising open defecation has been halved, from 21 per cent to 9 per cent, and 23 countries have achieved near elimination. Yet, 673 million people still practice open defecation.

Every year, 297, 000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhoea linked to inadequate WASH. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to the transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.

WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, Dr Maria Neira said “countries must double their efforts on sanitation or we will not reach universal access by 2030.

According to a press statement jointly signed by UNICEFs Yemi Lufadeju and WHOs Nada Osseiran on Tuesday, Dr Neira added that: If countries fail to step up efforts on sanitation, safe water and hygiene, we will continue to live with diseases that should have been long ago consigned to the history books: diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and neglected tropical diseases including trachoma, intestinal worms and schistosomiasis.

“Investing in water, sanitation and hygiene is cost-effective and good for society in so many ways. It is an essential foundation for good health.”

Also, Associate Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF, Kelly Ann Naylor said: “Mere access is not enough. If the water isn’t clean, isn’t safe to drink or is far away, and if toilet access is unsafe or limited, then we’re not delivering for the children of the world.

“Children and their families in poor and rural communities are most at risk of being left behind. Governments must invest in their communities if we are going to bridge these economic and geographic divides and deliver this essential human right.

“Closing inequality gaps in the accessibility, quality and availability of water, sanitation and hygiene should be at the heart of government funding and planning strategies. To relent on investment plans for universal coverage is to undermine decades worth of progress at the expense of coming generations.”

Tribune Online reports that the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene is the official United Nations mechanism tasked with monitoring country, regional and global progress, and especially toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets relating to universal and equitable access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

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