34m Nigerians Defecate In The Open


ranks fifth among countries whose citizens defecate in the open; with 34
million of the population involved in the practice, according to the United
Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF).
Consequently, 500,000 Nigerian
children die every year from diarrhoea and respiratory infections alone. While
diarrhoea is responsible for 194,000 deaths, respiratory infections kill about

In a statement signed by Geoffrey
Njoku, spokesperson for UNICEF in Nigeria, the organisation, as part of events
to mark World Toilet Day 2012, blamed open defecation for some of the terrible
diseases threatening children and called for more efforts to provide toilets
for people everywhere.

“The trends in the past five years
allow for cautious optimism that significant progress will be made in
decreasing the number of people globally who practice open defecation,” stated
Njoku. “A lack of toilet remains one of the leading causes of illness and death
among children. In Nigeria, it is estimated that diarrhoea kills about 194,000
children under five every year; and in addition, respiratory infections kill
another 240,000. These are largely preventable with improvements in water,
sanitation and hygiene.”
UNICEF said it is supporting 50
countries, including Nigeria, to implement Community Approaches to Total
Sanitation (CATS) such as community led total sanitation aimed at empowering
communities to identify their sanitation challenges and take necessary actions
to end open defecation.
“According to a joint UNICEF and World
Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2012, it is estimated that 34 million
Nigerians practice open defecation and Nigeria is amongst top 5 countries in
the world with largest number of people defecating in the open,” stated Njoku.
“Community led total sanitation aims to make all communities free of open
defecation by focusing on social and behaviour change and the use of
affordable, appropriate technologies. The emphasis is on the sustainable use of
sanitation facilities rather than the construction of infrastructure, and the
approach depends on the engagement of members of the community ranging from
individuals, to schools, to traditional leaders. Communities use their own
capacities to attain their objectives and take a central role in planning and
implementing improved sanitation.”
In Nigeria, UNICEF said it partners
with relevant government ministries, departments and agencies, as well as
donors such as European Union and UK Aid in supporting implementation of
community led total sanitation in 30 states, and over 2 million people living
in more than 3,000 open defecation free communities are estimated to be using
toilets as a result. With continuous support from governments and other
partners in scaling up this approach, it says more Nigerians will live in open
defecation free communities.
“Community led total sanitation is a
simple and an effective way of improving access to sanitation while also paving
the way for their improved health,” said Ibrahim Fall, UNICEF Country
Representative in Nigeria. “The approach has been found to be appropriate and
the best way to ensure improved and sustained access to sanitation is to
empower communities to provide toilets for themselves.”


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