Nigerians have more phones than toilets – UNICEF

Nigerians have more phones than toilets – UNICEF

Nigerians have more phones than toilets – UNICEF

…Africa to have nearly a half of word’s children by 2050

Marcus Fatunmole (Port Harcourt)

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday said Nigerians have more phones than toilets.

Quoting a 2018 report of Nigerian Communications Commission at a two-day “Media Dialogue on European Union Niger Delta Water Project” in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Chief of WASH, Zaid Jurji said “More people have access to a cell phone than toilets in Nigeria. 140 million people have cell phones, meanwhile only 97 million have access to improved sanitation.”

He also revealed that “47 million Nigerians do not have any toilets. Another 75 million use unimproved toilets. These people, including vulnerable women and children, suffer as a result of ingesting contaminated water/food and living in unsanitary conditions.”

According to him, Nigeria, the leading nation in Africa practicing open defecation, loses NGN 455 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) annually due to poor sanitation. The amount, Jurji said, is about Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Gambia, represents one percent of Nigeria’s GDP.

He said if Nigeria loses NGN 455 billion each year due to lack of sanitation and needs only NGN 95.9 billion per year to eliminate open defecation, the economic gains could be about NGN 359.1 billion or US$ 1.026 billion each year.

Sanitation needs to be prioritized by Federal and state government, while a state of emergency is declared on it, he said. He added that government should initiate bills/laws to promote sanitation and take urgent action to implement open defecation roadmap.

Jurji noted that ₦ 234 billion is needed for the realization of open-free-defecation (ODF) by the country by 2025. He called for a separate budget line for sanitation and ODF campaign by all tiers of government in the nation.

Speaking on Nigeria’s Global Standing on open defecation, he said: “Nigeria has second largest number of people that defecate in the open globally (47 million) Pakistan, 22 million, India 522 million, Nigeria has been top five open defecator in the world for the past 15 years, moving from 5th place in 2003 to second place in 2015.

“One in four Nigerian lack access to a basic toilet, they defecate in the open. 32 percent live in rural areas, 39 percent are from the poorest households. Only 39 percent Nigerians use an improved toilet that is not shared by more than one household. 4.4 percent have safely managed facilities (SDGs target) while 34.6 percent have basic facilities (MDGs target)

“Only 49 percent schools have usable latrines available for children. Sanitation in health facilities: Only 37 percent health facilities have at least one usable toilet available for patients.”



Jurji identified lack of or inappropriate technology options to meet various geographical conditions; lack of appropriate social mobilization and advocacy to stimulate demand generation and behaviour change; weak institutional arrangements and limited technical knowhow; low private sector participation, NGO’s and CBOs; low political and financial commitments as some of the constraints to water and sanitation programmes in the country.


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