UNICEF: Nigeria leads in global open defecation index

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that Nigeria is currently the number one country in the world with the highest number of people practising open defecation.

With 47 million people still defecating openly, the country has overtaken India, which left the position early this month.

UNICEF Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Said Jurji, disclosed this at a two-day workshop on Private Sector Engagement and Collaboration in WASH Forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, in Abuja.

He said it was very unfortunately that Nigeria claimed such an unenviable position.

His words, “Nigeria has claimed the spot as that country with the highest number of people who defecate in the open.

“I am sure Nigerians do not feel happy about this stigma. Imagine that 47 million people here defecate in the open. They are deprived of their basic needs and we need to do something about it.”

Jurji, who observed that WASH was next to shelter, clothing and sleeping, suggested that instead of doing a 150,000 household latrines every year, Nigeria needed to do between two to three million.

UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Pernille Ironside, said, “These statistics are alarming, so it seems to be the right moment to come together in an effort to co-create solutions to tackle the challenges affecting the health and well-being of Nigerians and impeding economic growth.”

However, there seems to be efforts to curb the menace.

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, warned that if effective solutions were not found, the non-availability of sanitation facilities might expose women and girls to violence and rape, when they go out at night to defecate.

He noted that the Federal Government was making moves to involve the private sector in tackling the problem of inadequate WASH services in the country and had launched the Organised Private Sector in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (OPSWASH) group.

The minister stated that as part of the effort to end open defecation in the country, a national roadmap towards making it Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2025 was developed and launched in 2016, but that only minimal progress had been made in its implementation.

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