BY Anayima Abo
The Federal Government has expressed worry that Nigeria still tops the global league of countries practicing open defecation (OD) with an estimated figure of 47 million people indulging in the practice.
Chief Scientific and Desk Officer Hygiene Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Ayaba Kogbara stated this during the review meeting of the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Media Network, Benue State Chapter, which held in Makurdi the Venue State Capital.
Kogbara who lamented that the practice has continued in spite of government efforts to track mechanism for sanitation and hygiene in the country, noted that open defecation has a negative impact on the health, education and socio-economic life of the populace, especially women and children.
She expressed regret that the practice of open defecation is a norm in many communities due to lack of sanitation facilities, adding that many public places either lack sanitation facilities or have facilities which are not accessible or fit to use.
Mrs Kogbara disclosed that national access to improved sanitation facilities stands at 41.5% of which 19.2% are safely managed according to the SDG standard WASHNORM 2018 data.
“Access to basic sanitation facilities in schools is 33.5% while in health care facilities the access is 11.7%. These statistics are critical and needs more attention with a minimum of three times the current level of investment required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation.
She urged all stakeholders to collaborate and ensure that open defecation is eliminated in Nigeria with a call on the media to play its role of sensitizing the general public on the negative effects of open defecation.
“I want to advise the Media to focus its lenses on capturing the negative attitudes of citizens and negligence on the part of our leaders that have brought the country to its knees as far as sanitation is concerned with a view to help in shaping the minds of the people on improved sanitation and hygiene”
Earlier, the National Chairman of WASH Media Network, Mr. Wale Elekolusi and his Benue- counterpart Babs Usigbe commended stakeholders for finding time to honour the invitation and urged them to support the media to carry out more sensitization and projection of WASH programmes in the state.