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Friday, July 30, 2021

Open Defecation Among Nigerians

OPEN defecation among Nigerians is a serious health problem facing the country. The country has taken over from India among nations indulging in the despicable act. Nigeria is one of the West African countries and is located on the gulf of Guinea. With a total area of 923,768 square kms. It is the world’s 32nd largest country, after Tanzania.
IN 2015 for example, around 46 million people in Nigeria defecate in the open. Another 56 million people are estimated to be added during the next 10 years.
According to a World bank report, around 122,000 Nigerians including 87,000 children under 5 die each year from diarrhea; nearly 90% is directly attributed to water, sanitation and hygiene. Also, 37% of Nigerian children, under 5 were stunted (height for age), 18% wasted (weight for height) and 29% under-weight (weight for age). While the percentage of stunted children declined between 2003 and 2013, there was an increase in the percentage of wasted and under-weight children.
ONE of the major reasons for iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) among adolescent girls and young mothers is found to be worm infestation that is attributed to open defecation. An anaemic mother, in all probability, will deliver a low-birth-weight baby not only endangering the life of the new born but also the mother. It is, therefore, not surprising that one in every 15 Nigerian children dies before reaching his/her first birth day and one in every eight does not survive to see his/her fifth birth day.
OPEN defecation is not only a social stigma but also a factor contributing to violence against young girls and young married women. A study sponsored by Water Aid in selected slums in Lagos, a quarter of women, defecating in open, had either first or second hand experience of harassment, a threat of violence or actual assault in the previous 12 months and over two-thirds felt unsafe using a shared or community toilet in a public place.
A World Bank Report in 2012, revealed that Nigeria loses N455 billion or US$ 3 billion annually due to poor sanitation. This works out to US$ 20 per capita year and constitutes 1.3% of Nigeria’s GDP. The same report also revealed that open defecation alone costs Nigeria over US$ 1 billion a year.
TO underscore the importance attached is o this menace, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 signed Executive Order 009 to tackle open defecation. In the same year, Nigeria’s Ministry of Water Resources¸ in collaboration with UNICEF and some other key agencies, launched the initiative tagged ‘Nigeria Open-Defecation-Free By 2025: A National Road Map’ in order to end the inimical practice by 2025.
ONDO State is not immune from the menace. According to research, about 1.4 million people engage in open defecation in Ondo State ,representing 32 percent of the entire population of the state.
THE state has made efforts at eradicating the trend. One of them was the setting up of a state steering committee on open defecation by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in 2019 . The committee was inaugurated to design a workable solutions to the problem. One of its strategies was to embark on aggressive advocacy campaign to educate people of the danger of open defecation and thereby have a change of attitude.
GOVERNMENT also has a mission to ensure that every house makes provision for adequate and functional toilet and this has always been enforced by Environmental Health Officers.
DESPITE government efforts in banning open defecation in the state, some people still continue to indulge in it.
THE practice portends a grave consequence in the areas of health, child development, education outcome, dignity and security.
WE therefore canvass for intensive campaign against open defecation . This should include advocacy to the Nigerian populace to sensitise them to the prevalence and danger of open defecation.
WE also suggest hygiene laws be made at the state and federal houses of assemblies criminalising open defecation, especially in the cities. Motor parks, shopping complexes, markets, restaurants, educational, financial institutions, all public and private buildings, communities, petrol stations, and recreation areas by making it compulsory for them to have toilets with running water.
NO private building or business site plan should be approved without provision for toilet facilities. Those whose toilets are not properly maintained should be sanctioned appropriately. Each local government must have sanitary officials that bring the hygiene laws to bear by ensuring compliance.
WATER supply should be made an important priority all over the country. Each state and local government should acquire borehole drilling machines to sink boreholes in strategic areas, especially in rural areas.
THE Hope calls on private organisations like banks, oil, insurance and manufacturing companies to donate latrines/toilets where needed across the nation as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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