By Victoria Ojeme
Open Defecation- Residents of Calabar, the Cross River State capital have a choice of either to rent expensive accommodation with toilet facilities or cheap ones without toilets but face the challenge of defecating in open spaces.
Some of the residents of the city told VANGUARD that the reason they defecate in the open is that they live in houses without toilets.
Elder Udeme Akpan, a fisherman who has been fishing at Calcemco Beach for the past 30 years said that in Calabar, houses with toilet are more expensive than the houses without a toilet.
“I have been here for the past 30 years and I have never gone to the toilet to “puu” (a pidgin word for stooling) because we don’t have toilets in this place.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says that out of the 47 million Nigerians that practice open defecation, 17.9 per cent live in the South-South Niger-Delta region.
The report released by UNICEF in Calabar yesterday at a dialogue and partnership meeting with the media to achieve Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 shows that one in four Nigerian (24.4%) defecate in the open.
According to Dr Geoffrey Njoku, Communication Specialist, UNICEF the North Central region has the most prevalence of open defecation at 59.9 per cent.
The South West region came second with 28.0 per cent, followed by the South East at 22.4 per cent, North East 21.8, and North West at 10.3 per cent.
Across the world, 2.3 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, and nearly 1 billion people defecate in the open — in gutters, behind bushes, in open bodies of water, and elsewhere.
It is a problem that kills millions of people each year and afflicts many more with disease.
But while open defecation is steadily declining in most countries, with 22 million fewer people defecating outdoors each year, it’s rising across sub-Saharan Africa, increasing from 204 million people practising it in 2000 to 220 million people in 2015.
Poor sanitation and open defecation practices kill more children every year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, the World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate.
Open defecation comes with the problem of contaminating water supplies and causing more than 280,000 deaths from diarrheal disease each year.
Because of diseases contracted from contaminated water, children become unable to absorb nutrients, causing widespread stunting. And the exposure of open defecation puts girls and women at risk of rape and violence.