UNICEF reports that 669 LGAs in Nigeria are required to eradicate open defecation.

Nigeria's Journey Towards Open Defecation

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has lamented that Nigeria still has a shortfall of 669 local government areas to join the League of open defecation-free countries.

The humanitarian body also said it might be impossible to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 by 2030 if the government and relevant stakeholders in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH, do not mobilize to ensure the 774 LGAs of the country become open-defecation-free.

As of now, Nigeria faces a significant challenge in overcoming open defecation practices, which pose serious threats to public health, environmental sustainability, and overall well-being. Open defecation not only contributes to the spread of diseases but also hampers the country’s progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6, which aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

UNICEF, a key player in global efforts to improve child health and well-being, has been actively engaged in supporting Nigeria’s sanitation initiatives. The organization’s recent acknowledgment of the shortfall in LGAs underscores the need for a renewed commitment to addressing this pervasive issue. The target of achieving open defecation-free status is not merely a statistical milestone but a crucial step towards creating healthier communities and a more sustainable future.

The Officer in Charge, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr. Clement Adams, spoke Wednesday at a media dialogue in Azare, Bauchi State, on World Toilet Day.

He also congratulated the people of Katagum LGA in Bauchi State for becoming the 105th local government area in the country to be certified open defecation-free.

Local government areas play a pivotal role in the implementation of sanitation policies and programs. They serve as the frontline agents in the battle against open defecation, as they are directly responsible for translating national strategies into actionable plans at the grassroots level. Therefore, the identified shortfall in LGAs signifies a critical gap that needs immediate attention and strategic interventions.

Several challenges contribute to the persistent issue of open defecation in Nigeria. Limited access to sanitation facilities, cultural practices, and inadequate awareness about the importance of proper sanitation are among the primary obstacles. Additionally, the lack of sustainable and affordable sanitation solutions in many rural areas further exacerbates the problem. To bridge the gap, a multifaceted approach that addresses these challenges comprehensively is imperative.

According to him, “the majority of the diseases that afflict people can be traced to poor sanitation.

“Not having enough toilets is endangering both humans and the environment, and the statistics we have is not encouraging.

“Jigawa is the only state in the country that has all its local government areas certified open defecation-free, but we believe other states can copy from them to ensure the country achieves Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 by 2030.

“We need more partnerships with relevant stakeholders, and governments must ensure all hands are on deck to bridge the gap created by the shortfall.”

Earlier, Bauchi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Alh. Nuhu Zaki, expressed the state government’s commitment to attaining open defecation-free status across all 20 LGAs by 2025.


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