If urgent proactive measures are not taken to stop the menace of open defecation that is trending in every part of the country, Nigerians risk an outbreak of epidemics that might lead to untimely deaths among the populace.
This is against the backdrop of a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNCEF) on Wednesday that 47 million Nigerians (24.4 percent of the population) practice open defecation.
UNICEF WASH expert Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, who made the disclosure at a South West media dialogue on sanitation held in Ibadan, Oyo State, also disclosed that 11 percent of the Nigerian children had suffered diarrhea and cholera in the past six months due to open defecation . He added that 76 percent of the children were under five years of age.
Ogunjobi further disclosed that Nigeria ranked second in the world behind India, which ranked first among countries across the globe that are still practising open defecation.
He disclosed that the North Central ranked highest among Nigerian regions for open defecation, with 16 million people (53.9 of its population) engaging in the practice.
The South West ranks second, with 28 percent of its population.
Ogunjobi said that the figures of the prevalence in the six geopolitical zones was arrived at through WASH Lump Survey done by the Federal Government with UNICEF support.
“Out of every four Nigerians, one person still practises open defecation, while out of two persons in the North Central, one still indulges in open defecation,” Ogunjobi said.
He called on Nigerians to be sanitation-conscious and stop the menace as government or UNICEF’s efforts alone would not be enough to end the practice.
“Every one has a role to play to change the practice,” Ogunjobi stressed.
He revealed that only about 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) out of 774 in the country are free from open defecation.
He added that six of them were assisted by UNICEF.
Ogunjobi added that UNICEF had engaged the private sector to use their platforms in campaigning for a clean Nigeria in order to put an end open defecation.