*Says 13.5 million people defecate in the open
By Chris Ochayi
AN environmental agency, WaterAid Nigeria yesterday made a startling disclosure that 58 million out of 700 urban dwellers around the world who are 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 toilet’.
The Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo, who spoke while addressing the press on the activities marking this year’s World Toilet Day in Abuja, said a new analysis ranked the country the third in the world and worst in Sub-Saharan Africa for having the most urban-dwellers living without a safe, private toilet. This year’s anniversary, with the theme; “Toilet and jobs” is expected to be marked today across the globe.
According to Dr. Ojo, “To mark World Toilet Day on November 19, Water Aid Nigeria is calling on the government to keep its promise on delivery of 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.
“WaterAid’s Overflowing Cities: The State of the V/odd 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 2000, two were added to the number living without, an increase of 31 million people in the past 15 years.
“This year’s global theme for World Toilet Day 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 5% of GDP. A lack of access to sanitation cost the global economy US$222.9 billion in 2015, up from US$182.5 billion in 2010, a rise of 22% in just five years.