Nigeria has been ranked number one in the world and second globally among countries where open defecation is rampant.
India was the only country ranked ahead of Nigeria in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASHROOM) survey that was carried out by the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in which the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of statistics were partakers.
Five other African countries were rated among the top ten on the global survey. They are Ethiopia (3rd), Niger (7th), Sudan (8th), Chad (9th) and Mozambique (10th).
Other countries in the worst 10 are Indonesia (4th), Pakistan (5th), and China (6th).
Speaking to Premium Times on the global survey, a water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi revealed 47 million Nigerians which represents 24.4 percent of the population still practice open defecation.
According to Mr. Ogunjobi. only 12 percent of markets and motor parks in Nigeria have WASH facilities while 20 percent made provisions for washing of hands.
“In fact, Nigeria has the second highest number of people who practice open defecation worldwide (47 million), after India.”
The specialist said diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, combined with underlying malnutrition, are responsible for most deaths of infants and children.
He said Nigeria’s population of 12 million stunted children and two million children suffering from acute malnutrition are all as a result of bad sanitation system in the country.
“About 50 percent of children’s deaths are related to malnutrition; 32 percent of children under 5 are stunted; 90 percent households use water that is contaminated; 12 million under 5 children in Nigeria are stunted,” he said.
”In four years, between 2014 and 2018, India removed about 500 million from open defecation,” he said.
Mr. Ogunjobi, who said the use of unimproved latrine is as bad as open defecation, said only 13 local government areas in Nigeria spread across Jigawa, Bauchi, Benue and Cross River have been certified as Open Defecation Free.
According to him, only six percent of primary schools have access to gender-sensitive toilets and WASH services in Nigeria.
”The global standard for every primary school is to have a gender-sensitive toilet. The global standard is one toilet to twenty pupils but now, we have over forty people to one toilet, ”he said
“In Benue, only one community has been certified. There are communities that would have been certified ODF but they still have a problem with their market places and motor parks. Therefore, they are yet to be certified. If a community is 99 percent ODF, it cannot be certified until is 100 percent,” he said.
Mr. Ogunjobi explained that although the government could not build toilets for all, this can be done through Public Private Partnership.
He said most Nigerians are yet to realize how deadly OD is to children under five years old, the public and the society at large.