The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinabjo, yesterday announced that Nigeria loses about N455billion annually due to poor sanitation as a result of illness, low productivity and loss of learning opportunities.
Osinbajo, who stated this in Abuja at the National Launch and Flag-off of Clean Nigeria: ‘Use the Toilet Campaign’, quoted the World Bank report on the economic impact of poor sanitation due to use of unsanitary or shared toilets and open defecation.
He stated that it is estimated that Nigeria loses N455billion annually, with open defecation accounting for a third of this amount.
These costs, according to Osinbajo, include health care, loss of productivity, premature deaths, and poor educational outcomes, among others.
The Vice President noted that the dire costs of open defecation cannot only be quantified in monetary terms, adding that social costs, loss of dignity, lack of privacy and increased vulnerability to physical attacks and violence especially for women and girls are associated with practice of open defecation.
He said the action to end open defecation in Nigeria requires the efforts of every Nigerian, adding that all hands must be on deck to end the menace.
According to him, “The Federal Government recognises the fact that action to end open defecation in Nigeria will require the contribution and commitment of everyone, government at all levels, civil society, private sector, development partners, traditional and religious leaders and the entire populace.
“So households must be mobilised to provide their own sanitation facilities. Government institutions and the private sector should provide sanitation facilities in public places such as schools, health care centres, parks and markets to realise total coverage and sustainable access for the populace.”
Osinbajo noted that between 2016 and 2019, with the support of the Development Partners, 14 Local Government Areas in Nigeria have been declared Open Defecation Free, adding that this achievement was a far cry from the target of making Nigeria open defecation free by 2025, in line with the National Road Map.
Commenting on the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign,” the Vice President explained that the “campaign is a national transformative initiative to mobilise the entire nation towards imbibing the culture of safe and sustainable sanitation practices towards the 2025 target date.”
He said the campaign was backed up by a Presidential Executive Order which would give effect to the implementation of the Clean Nigeria Campaign.
“In this emergency phase of the Action Plan it is our desire to aggressively mobilise the entire country towards ending the practice of open defecation.
“With one third of the population without access to basic water supply services and more than half of the population without basic sanitation services, we all must redouble our efforts and work together in order to meet the nation’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene needs.”
“As a nation we simply cannot afford the huge costs including fatalities caused by preventable water and sanitation related diseases as a result of inadequate WASH services.
“In contributing to the government’s efforts, citizens must take action to avoid open defecation,” he said.
In his address, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, said over the years, Nigeria has consistently advanced on the ladder of countries with the highest number of people practising open defecation.
“From a distant 6th position globally in 2000, we have maintained the first position in Africa and second position globally since 2013 behind India who had about 550million of her people involved in this act.
“Through the Swachh Bharat Mission, a behaviour change campaign, India has been able to move 500 million of this population from the practice with the construction of over 92 million toilets between 2014 and 2019,” he said.
Adamu explained that about 47million Nigerians still practise open defecation, adding that the practice is norm in many communities across the country due to lack of sanitation facilities.
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