The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has said only 14 out of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria are open defecation-free.
He said this on Monday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Water Resources to defend the 2020 budget of his ministry.
Mr Adamu said the highest concentration of communities practising open defecation is in the North-central.
“Right now, we have just 14 local government areas in the country that are open defecation free. We have thousands of communities without toilet facilities.
“The highest concentration of communities that are practising open defecation is in the North-central,” he said.
He did not name the communities that are free from the scourge.
He, however, said Nigeria is currently leading others in terms of poor hygiene with about 47 million citizens not having direct access to toilets.
A global survey has identified Nigeria as the second in the world among countries where open defecation is prevalent.
Only India ranked worse than Nigeria in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH NORM) survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics took part in the Nigerian survey.
Apart from Nigeria, five other African countries are among the worst 10 where open defecation is prevalent. They include Ethiopia (3rd), Niger (7th), Sudan (8th), Chad (9th) and Mozambique (10th).
Other countries in the worst 10 are Indonesia (4th), Pakistan (5th), and China (6th).
The minister, however, said President Muhammadu Buhari would soon issue an executive order to address the ‘unfortunate’ development.
He also said his ministry had started a campaign “that is encouraging public and private establishments to provide toilets not only for their members of staff but for any member of the public that wish to make use of such facility.”
“The Federal Executive Council has approved the campaign against open defecation. The People are going to be responsible for the cost of the project.
“Very soon, there is going to be an executive order to compel all government institutions,” he said.
This report, he said, is affecting the nation’s integrity.
“This is not dignifying. It is not good for women. Girls no longer want to go to school whenever they are experiencing their monthly flow because there are no water sanitation facilities in most schools.”
He also said the ministry will declare a state of emergency in water sanitation in the country and as part of efforts to make Nigeria, open defecation free by 2025.
He said his ministry would launch a campaign on November 19 – being a day set aside by the United Nations as World Toilet Day.
He noted that all agencies of government must key into the campaign against open defecation and provide decent toilets for their staff.
Federal institutions like schools and hospitals must also have modern sanitation facilities, he said.
Paucity of funds
The minister lamented that his ministry had yet to complete a single project out of the 116 which the current government inherited from the past administration, due to paucity of funds.
He also said it was difficult to involve the private sector because of the nature of the contracts signed for the affected projects.
“It is difficult to involve the private sector in the said projects because of the nature of contract awards.
“We are, however, not discarding any alternative source of funding for our projects. The idea is to complete these projects so that they would be beneficial to our people.”