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UNICEF, others seek national housing policy implementation

Handwashing…hand washing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Stakeholders have called for the implementation of the National Housing Policy as a means to mitigate the problem of Open Defecation (OD) in the country.Speaking at a Media Dialogue on ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Child Rights Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, UNICEF WASH specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi noted that a lot of houses in Nigeria are built without toilets, adding that this encourages open defecation practice.

He stressed the need for state governments to engage the services of environmental workers, especially sanitary inspectors to ensure full enforcement and compliance to the national housing policy.

Ogunjobi observed that Nigeria needs eight million toilets within the next four years in order to be open defecation free by 2025. He lamented that over 47 million Nigerians practice Open defecation adding that out of the number, 16 million live in the north central part of the country.

Ogunjobi stated that India, which has the highest number of population that practice open defecation is implementing a robust strategy and has concluded, plans to end open defecation by October 1st, 2019 adding that if this happens, Nigeria will be the country with the highest number of people practicing open defecation.

According to him, only 13 out of the 774 Local governments Areas in Nigeria have attained ODF while about 761 LGA’s still practice open defecation. He observed that World Bank study revealed that Nigeria loses about N450 billion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to open defecation.

He explained that Cross River state has six Local Government Areas that are open defecation free while Bauchi state have four local governments that are ODF free and Benue, one LGA.

Also speaking, the Head, Child Rights Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Olumide Osanyinpeju recalled that the Nigerian government recently declared a state of emergency on WASH Nigeria and launched an Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign strategy to jump-start the country’s journey towards ending open defecation.

Osanyinpeju disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with support from UNICEF, in partnership with Inter-Ministerial Agencies, Civil Society Partners, the Private Sector, and the people of Nigeria, is currently leading the ODF campaign to end open defecation in the country by 2025, and achieve universal access to safely manage sanitation by 2030.

He said, “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign is one of the most ambitious behaviour-change campaigns in Nigeria with a strong citizen engagement component. The campaign to end open defecation is a key initiative that will reach many un-served populations. Leveraging on what is currently working in the States with Local Government Areas’ certified ODF; this campaign mode will create a national movement with elements of policy advocacy, public advocacy, grassroots mobilization, and private sector engagement.

According to him, Open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty as inadequate waste disposal promotes the infection cycle of many agents that can spread through contaminated soil, food, water and insects such as flies.

Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition. We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030’’, he added. Osanyinpeju urged the media to aggressively create more awareness on Sanitation issues, “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” and to bring about the desired behavioural change.

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