By Chioma Obinna
Indications have emerged that prevalence of water borne diseases may continue to rise as 771 Local Government Areas of Nigeria are still grappling with open defecations even as the 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey showed that 25 percent of Nigerians defecate openly.
With the development Nigeria now ranks 2nd among countries with highest prevalence of open defecation.
According to UNICEF, open defecation, remains a big challenge as only three of the 774 LGAs are open defecations free. World Bank figures show that the Federal Government needs to invest about N2.88 trillion ($8.3 billion) to effectively check open defecation in different parts the country.
Meanwhile, global health agencies have stressed that Nigeria needs investment in open defecation to attain Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
They also found that over 88 per cent of cases of diarrhoea cases in Nigerian children are traceable to open defecation.
In the views of UNICEFs Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, Specialist, Drissa Yeo OD open defecation is happening in large scale in Nigeria, hence the need for urgent intervention.
Yeo who at two-day media dialogue on Water supply and sanitation sector reform project, Phase 3”, noted that despite interventions in some communities in Nigeria, 40 percent still practice open defecation due to ignorance of the effects.
“There is need to encourage open discussions about open defecation, so that people can be aware of its dangers and scale up hygiene in the rural communities.
“The Federal government has developed a road map to end open defecation. If state governments adopt the road map, domesticate and fund it, the country will be looking forward to achieving open defecation free.”
On his part, Chief of UNICEFs Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, Nigeria, Mr. Zaid Jurji said less than 10 percent of Nigerians have access to safe water, while 90 per cent have no access to safe drinking water.
Jurji called for more serious budgeting allocation to WASH, reasoning that if Nigeria should triple its investment to a minimum of 1.7 per cent from the current 0.6 per cent GDP, it would meet the SDG by 2030.
The country will only beat the target by making an investment of $8 billion annually until 2030. Sanitation and water has a big impact on health, economy, and children and to everything that influences lives.
Jurji in his presentation: “Overview of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene situation in Nigeria,” lamented the impact of unsafe water and poor sanitation on the development and survival of children.
Jurji who spoke on the MICS, said with 25 per cent of Nigerians defecating in the open;, the country may not achieve the SDGs in 2030.
Deputy Director, Child Right Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Olumide Osanyinpeju said: “Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition.
We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030,” Osanyinpeju stated.