By CHIOMA OBINNA
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Toilet Day, a joint UNICEF and World Health Organisation report of 2012 has revealed that estimated 34 million Nigerians practice open defecation.
According to report, Nigeria is amongst the top five countries in the world with largest number of people defecating in the open.
Meanwhile a press statement by UNICEF to mark the Day in the country seeks end to open defaction.
A lack of toilet remains one of the leading causes of illness and death among children. According to UNICEF statistics, in Nigeria, it is estimated that diarrhoea kills about 194,000 children under five every year and in addition, respiratory infections kill another 240,000. These are largely preventable with improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene.
UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Ibrahima Fall noted that trends in the past five years allow for cautious optimism that significant progress will be made in decreasing the number of people globally who practice open defecation.
Fall disclosed that globally, UNICEF is supporting 50 countries including Nigeria to implement Community Approaches to Total Sanitation, CATS such as Community Led Total Sanitation aimed at empowering communities to identify their sanitation challenges and take necessary actions to end open defecation.
He explained that Community Led Total Sanitation aims to make all communities free of open defecation by focusing on social and behaviour change and the use of affordable, appropriate technologies.
Fall said UNICEF is supporting implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation in 30 States, and over 2 million people living in more than 3,000 open defecation free communities are estimated to be using toilets as a result.