A Water Sanitation and Hygiene, (WASH), expert has charged the media to give more attention to sanitation coverage in order to reduce the high level of open defecation among Nigerians.
Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, a WASH Specialist with UNICEF, also tasked journalists to increase reportage on behavioural change among Nigerians through human interest stories on sanitation in order to reverse the ugly trend.
Ogunjobi, made the call in Kano at a 2-day Media Dialogue on Sanitation and hygiene tagged: “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” Campaign organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau, (CRIB), Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Kano.
He explained that the the focus for the Clean Nigeria Campaign movement by UNICEF is to get the 47 million Nigerians to use the toilet and stop open defecation; as well as increase access to improved sanitation, especially in rural communities.
According to him, WASH NORM findings showed that 64 per cent Nigerians have access to basic drinking water, and 42 per cent have access to basic sanitation services, while 24 per cent practice open defecation.
He said that: “20 per cent Nigerians have fixed place for handwashing with soap and water, 6 per cent of schools have basic, gender-sensitive WASH services.
While on the other hand: “Only 5 per cent of health facilities have basic, gender-sensitive wash services, 12 per cent markets and Motor parks have basic WASH services, while 11 per cent Nigerians have suffered Diarrhoea in the past 6 weeks, 76 per cent are children under 5,” he added.
Speaking further, Mr Ogunjobi said although concerted efforts were being put in place by governments to reversed the ugly trend and these has seen some communities certified Open Defecation Free, (ODF), by the committee of assessors made up of government at all levels and development partners having fully met the criteria.
He gave the number of communities certified as ODF by geopolitical zones with highest from the North-West 9,027; followed by North-East with 3,806 communities.
Others are: North-Central 2003; South-South 1,384; South-West 733; while the South-East came last with 328 communities.
He however said more needed to be done and called for increased budgetary allocation, as well as strong political commitment in leadership at all levels to improve sanitation and end open defecation.
The UNICEF specialist noted there was need for increased and well-targeted WASH funding at all levels, especially for rural areas.
“Increased collaboration amongst development organization’s and civil society organizations working to improve sanitation and end open defecation.
“Increased private sector engagement in the WASH sector through business investment and corporate citizenship/corporate social responsibility. And sanitation and hygiene awareness creation through branding and promotion,” he said.
These efforts are made possible with supports from the Department for International Development, (DFID), and the European Union, (EU).