By Felicia Imohimi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed on Monday in Abuja that over 47 million Nigerians lack access to basic toilet facilities.
The UNICEF Water and Sanitation (WASH) Specialist, Mr. Raphael Nwozor, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja in commemoration of World Toilet Day which is celebrated globally every Nov. 19. The Day is marked by sensitising people on the need to take actions at ensuring that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030.
Nwozor condemned the rating given Nigeria as the number two country engaging in open defecation, after India, adding that the rating was unacceptable.
“Over 47 million Nigerians do not have access to basic toilet facility and the commemoration of the day is to re-echo the fact that good toilet facility is a basic human need. The day is also to emphasise the need for every family, individual within the community, to at least, have access to toilet facilities,’’ he said.
Nwozor attributed the poor access to toilet facilities to include cultural and social norms, adding that some communities still see the use of the open space, bushes and rivers, among others, as a social norm.
“Some people see the building of toilets in homes as taboos. To them defecating in a toilet where you live is an animalistic behaviour and hence they prefer using the bush. Some people or culture see constructing toilet facilities at home as defecating in your dwelling place and that it is not ideal. Due to such perceptions, human beings should not defecate in their dwelling place, utilise the bush and rivers around them while undermining the consequence,” he said.
The WASH specialist highlighted efforts of the federal government to include policies, plans and making declaration, to ensure the nation is “Open Defecation Free” (ODF) by 2025.
He specifically noted that recently President Muhammadu Buhari declared state of emergency in WASH sector and announced the plan by the country to become ODF free by 2025, among other measures.
He further described those declarations as policies, adding that realisation of ODF 2025 required the concerted efforts of government at all levels, the private sector, media as well as communities themselves.
He identified some health implications of open defecation as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and malaria, among others.
The specialist said that having good toilet facility was a fundamental human right which every government should ensure it provides its citizens.
The UNICEF official also described it as “key in ending open defecation”, which he noted had posed lot of health challenges on the populace.