Open defecation: Buhari directs sanitation facilities in public places

Tony Akowe and Sanni Onogu, Abuja

  • Osinbajo unveils Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign
  • Senate: Nigerians need more toilets

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday directed states and federal institutions as well as private organisations to have sanitation facilities in public places.

This, he said, is part of efforts to end open defecation in the country.

The President also said households must provide their sanitation facilities to ensure total coverage and sustainable access for the populace to end the practice.

He said this would ensure that Nigeria does not take over from India as number one nation in open defecation.

Also, Water Resources Minister Suleiman Adamu said about 47 million Nigerians still practise open defecation because of lack of facilities and space.

President Buhari spoke in Abuja through Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the inauguration of the Clean Nigeria: Use The Toilet campaign.

It was part of government’s moves to stop the rating of Nigeria as number one in open defecation in Africa and second in the world.

Read Also: Sack of Osinbajo’s aides part of reorganisation of Presidency – Buhari

He said the Federal Government was committed to providing an environment that would be conducive for the citizenry to end open defecation.

The President added that the World Bank report on the economic impact of poor sanitation due to use of unsanitary or shared toilets and open defecation, estimates that Nigeria loses N455 billion annually, with open defecation accounting for one-third of the amount.

“These costs include health care, loss of productivity, premature deaths, poor educational outcomes, among others,” he said.

The President argued that some of the dire costs of open defecation could not be quantified in monetary terms as they include the social costs, loss of dignity, lack of privacy and increased vulnerability to physical attacks and violence, especially for women and girls.

President Buhari said Target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Water and Sanitation seeks to “achieve by 2030, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation”.

“This is paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations,” he said.

The President stressed that with the support of development partners, about 14 local government areas were declared open defecation-free between 2016 and 2019.

“This achievement is a far cry from our target of making Nigeria open defecation-free by 2025, according to the national roadmap. The Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign is part of our effort to fast-track our progress and ensure we achieve our goal,” he added.

Also, the Senate on Tuesday urged Federal, state and local governments to build more public toilets to curb open defecation across the country.

This followed the adoption of a point of personal explanation moved by Senator Clifford Ordia, who heads Local and Foreign Debt Committee, as part of activities to mark this year’s World Toilet Day.

The Senate insisted that it was not enough to complain or acknowledge the growing case of open defecation, saying actions must be taken urgently to redress the situation.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan said: “The government needs to provide the facilities, if Nigerians must stop open defecation. Government needs to provide toilets in public places.”

Ordia noted that open defection poses serious economic, social, health hazards to the people, their communities and the environment.

An expert in water, sanitation and hygiene at the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi said Nigeria loses about 1.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), amounting to N455 billion annually, due to poor sanitation and that a third of that cost is the result of open defecation.

He said: “Besides the exposure to diseases, there is a lack of dignity that is inherent in open defecation practices, particularly with regard to women and girls.

“If effective solutions are not found, the non-availability of sanitation facilities inadvertently further exposes women and girls to violence, including rape, when they are forced to go out at night to defecate in the open.

“The Ministry on Environment, Water Resources, Health and other related agencies should increase awareness and sensitisation on the dangers of open defecation.”