The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) last Friday, June 16, 2023, urged the Nigerian Government to triple its current investment in sanitation and hygiene to enable it to meet the Open Defecation Free (ODF) target by 2025.
Dr. Jane Bevan, the UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), stated this at the two-day Media Dialogue on Open Defecation in Biu, Borno State.
Bevan, who was represented by Chisom Adimorah, UNICEF WASH Specialist, noted that Nigeria was not on track to end open defecation by 2025, but in 2059 (36 years) at the current rate using linear forecast.
She said that the country could not continue with business as usual and that there is a need to strengthen and scale up proven strategies to reach the country’s goals.
“The nation’s current sanitation situation revealed that 48 million people practice open defecation, while 95 million do not have access to basic sanitation services.
“Seventy per cent of schools are without access to basic sanitation services, and 88 per cent of healthcare facilities are without access to basic sanitation, while 80 per cent of markets and motor parks are without access to basic sanitation.
“Nigeria has been one of the top five open defecators in the world for the past 15 years, moving from 5th place in 2003, 2nd place in 2015 and now 1st place in 2023, whereas India eradicated open defecation in 2019,’’ she said.
She added that “the key strategies to reach ODF goals include closing the toilet gaps by supporting households to pay for their latrines, awareness creation and market-based sanitation.
“We target the engagement of the private sector through toilet business owners (TBOs) to sell and build toilets.
“We are also going to provide support for poor households to access funds through microfinance institutions,’’ Bevan said.
The Transitional Chairman, Biu Local Government Area (LGA), Alhaji Sule Abubakar, said the council had played its part in monitoring and evaluation of ODF communities.
Abubakar added that it had also educated the people on the importance of a clean environment, good hygiene, and sustaining the ODF status.
“Biu LG remains appreciative of our partners who have supported our WASH activities for years.
“Evidence of this support includes the drilling, upgrading and renovation of boreholes across Biu LGA in different communities.