Nigeria needs $8.3bn to fight open defecation –UNICEF

Friday Olokor, Jos

The United Nations Children’s Fund on Tuesday has said that in order to effectively check open defecation in different parts the country, the Federal Government will need to invest about $8.3bn.

Warning that this is necessary for Nigeria to attain Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, the agency also revealed that over 88 per cent of cases of diarrhoeal infection in underage children in Nigeria were caused by open defecation.

UNICEF’s Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Nigeria, Zaid Jurgi, made this disclosure in Jos, capital of Plateau State, during a two-day media dialogue on water supply and sanitation sector reform project, Phase 3.

The event was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF and supported by the European Union.

Jurgi identified access to clean drinking water, proper sanitation and personal hygiene as crucial to child development.

According to him, Goal six of the SDGs emphasised the importance of access to water and safe environment to the survival of children.

He said, “For Nigeria to attain open defecation free nation and attain SDGs six in 2030, Nigeria has to invest $8.3bn to fight open defecation. At the moment, Nigeria is investing less than one-thirds of the amount.

“Safe and clean water is essential to the survival and development of children  and without it,  they simply cannot stay alive and remain healthy in the society. Open defecation is increasingly dangerous and can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid,  hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea,  and under nutrition in children.

“In fact, over 88 per cent cases of diarrhoea in children, the fastest killer of children under the age of five in Nigeria, is caused by open defecation. Good personal hygiene can check the spread of this disease, especially among children. So, we must double our current efforts to put an end to open defecation, ensure there is access to clean water and a safe environment for children by 2030,” he said.

The Deputy Director, CRIB, in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Olumide Osanyinpeju, described the workshop as timely.

He said the sharing of information and experiences on issues of water,  sanitation and hygiene could not be over-emphasised as it would boost health services across the country.

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