Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2019

Open defecation: UNICEF, FG harp on media roles to end practice by 2025

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Open defecation

By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Worried that 47million Nigerians still engage in open defecation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday engaged media organizations in Kano, to end the trend in Nigeria.
Speaking on the objectives of the dialogue organized by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture in collaboration with UNICEF, the agency’s Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njokwu, said the workshop is aimed at creating awareness about “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign and mobilize
resources to sustain the national movement.
“Also, to call for behavior change and policy reform through community dialogues, advocacy visits and engagement with policymakers.
“Drive cross-sector collaboration, especially with the private sector to improve investment in the sanitation sector.”
While presenting an overview of the “Clean Nigeria”: Use the toilet campaign,
UNICEF’s WASH Specialist, Bioye Ogunjobi added that 33 million more people in the country also use unimproved toilets.
Giving the breakdown according to regions, Ogunjobi said, 53.9% of the people are in the North Central, while South West has 28%.
Others are; North East 21.8%, North West 10.3%, South East 22.4% and South South 17.9%.
In his analysis of the poor sanitation situation in the country, Ogunjobi said UNICEF is working to change a situation where 64% have access to basic drinking water services, and only 42% have access to basic sanitation.
He added that 20% have fix place for hand washing with soap and toilet, while only 6% of schools have basic gender sensitive WASH services.
He further said only 5% of the country’s health facilities have basic gender-WASH sensitive services.
“12% market and motor parks have basic WASH services. Also, 11% of people suffered diarrhea in the past six weeks, 76% are children under 5.”
Ogunjobi said the organization is working assiduously with European Union (EU), The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and other partners to ensure that the 47 million Nigerians use the toilet and stop open defecation, and also to increase access to improved sanitation, especially in the rural areas.
He noted that 10 local governments in the country are Open Defecation Free (ODF), accounting for 13,000 communities across the country, describing Jigawa as having the highest number followed by Bauchi.
On what the agency has done, Ogunjobi said UNICEF has provided 1.7 million access to improved water facilities and 2.2 million people have access to improved toilets”.
“1,227 schools and 599 primary healthcare centers have been equipped with WASH services. 3,908 communities supported to become certified open defecation free through community approach. 2.4million have benefited from UNICEF’s hygiene promotion improved distribution of hygiene supplies.”
On his part, the Deputy Director, Head Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information who represented the Minister, Lai Muhammed said there is need to increase awareness about the impact of open defecation in Nigeria.
“The media is a strong vehicle to communicate the message. End ODF and WASH programmes were integral part of SDG6. It is therefore, critical to intensify efforts in tracking them. It is against this backdrop that the process recognized that there is dire need to constantly leverage on media alliance in this process because the media is a critical partner in achieving success in the WASH and End ODF programmes.
“This media dialogue on sanitation and the campaign to end open defecation targeting three states of Kano, Osun and Cross River. Therefore, it is aimed at creating awareness about “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign, and mobilize resources to sustain the national movement. It calls for behaviour change and policy reform through community dialogues to raise public awareness by setting agenda for children issues within the framework of child rights. It also creates a deeper understanding of the needs of children among people, government and institutions, while defining the role of the society in meeting those needs.
He further called of journalists to arm themselves with in-depth knowledge of WASH “as this would enable you write factual and compelling stories.
“You are also to use your expertise to increase the knowledge among community members, to upgrade local government areas, WASH units and departments, and strengthen the capacity to implement rural WASH projects.”

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