Sanitation essential as Nigeria marks World Toilet Day

By Gloria Essien, Abuja

Nigerians have been called to pay more attention to sanitation for a healthy living, as the nation joins the World to mark Toilet Day.

The Director of Water Aid Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo made the call at an event in Abuja to mark the day.

The Director of Water Aid Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo (Middle)
Dr. Michael Ojo (Middle)

“Nigeria is not doing well as regards to sanitation…It is the bedrock of public health so where poor sanitation exists, improvement in health and nutrition aren’t sustainable and children are repeatedly exposed and are at considerable risk of harm throughout their childhood,” Dr Ojo said.

Water aid Nigeria also launched the State of the World’s Toilets report 2016, which ranks countries of the world based on their sanitation situations.

According to the report, Nigeria is third amongst nations with poor toilet hygiene after India and China.

“It highlights the challenges facing 700 million urban dwellers around the world living without basic sanitation, 58 eight million of whom are in Nigeria. The problem is so big that 13.5 million people living in Nigeria’s towns and cities have no choice but to defecate in the open using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags dubbed flying toilets,’’ Dr. Ojo explained.

He said universal access to water and hygiene services would significantly contribute to development and reduce healthcare and mortality costs.

“Improving access to safe water and hygiene is probably the most effective investment Nigeria can make to grow its economy and better the lives of its people,’’ he stressed.

Dr Ojo called for a multi sectorial approach to the provision of mobile toilets across the country.

He equally advised the government to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and birth centres have safe toilets, clean water and functional hand washing facilities to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths and strengthen children’s ability to attend school.

The Head of Governance Water Aid, Tolani Busari said that government alone cannot ensure sanitation and the people needed to be aware of the importance of imbibing good toilet habits for a healthy living.

The Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCT, says it has a lot of work to do to provide enough toilets to curb open defecation.

The Director Disease Control at the FCT Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Yakubu Muhammed, said that the administration recognised the health implementations of lack of toilet facilities and was working to tackle the issue.

According to him, “the agency is currently working in the rural areas in the six area councils of the FCT.’’

Dr. Muhammed added that everyone living in the rural and urban areas needed to be reached, to protect public health.

The theme for the 2016 World Toilet Day is ‘Toilet and Jobs’. It focuses on how lack of toilets affects Countries’ economies.

World Toilet Day is marked on November 19, annually to highlight the importance of toilets and to educate the public on how to maintain toilet hygiene.

It also aimed at drawing government’s attention to the need to end open defecation.

Mercy Chukwudiebere