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Monday, October 2, 2023

World Toilet Day: Nigeria among hardest places for women to find toilet

Nigeria is in the top three worst countries in the world for the number of people without toilets, reveals WaterAid’s State of the World’s Toilets 2017 report. As a result, nearly 123 million people still suffer the fear and indignity of relieving themselves in the open or in unsafe or unhygienic toilets – a situation that is most dangerous for girls and women.

A school toilet for girls

“Out of Order”, WaterAid’s third-annual analysis of the world’s toilets released ahead of World Toilet Day, reveals that,globally, one in three people still have nowhere decent to go to the toilet, and demonstrates how women and girls bear the brunt of this global crisis. For more than 1.1 billion women and girls, this injustice results in an increased risk of poor health, limited education, harassment and even attack.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, comes in at third place for the worst countries for the numbers of people with access to basic sanitation. Despite being sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy, it is also sixth worst for addressing open defecation, with the percentage of people defecating in the open increasing from 22.6% in 2000 to 25.5% in 2015.

The proportion of people without basic sanitation has also gone up, and two thirds of schools have no decent toilets. This sanitation crisis contributed to the deaths of nearly 60,000 children each year from related diarrhoeal diseases.

Oluseyi Abdulmalik, WaterAid Nigeria’s Communications and Media Manager, said: “Seven in 10 people in Nigeria have nowhere safe to go to the toilets, equating to an overwhelming 123 million people. This denial of human rights contributes to the deaths of around 165 children under five every single day, and holds women and girls back from fulfilling their potential.

“We need urgent action to turn this situation around. Addressing the sanitation crisis with particular focus on the needs of women and girls will help lift entire communities out of poverty.

“We often call on Government to prioritise sanitation and investment in the sector and while this is as it should be, sanitation is really everyone’s responsibility. We all have a part to play – as individuals, property/home owners,  families, work groups, unions and associations, civil society organisations, the media, the private sector, and yes, Government at all levels.”

Among the other findings in the report released by WaterAid this World Toilet Day:

  • All 10 of the world’s worst countries for access to basic sanitation by percentage are in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 28% of people have a decent toilet, and children are 14 times more likely to die before the age of five than in developed regions.
  • Ethiopia is top of the list of countries with the greatest percentage of people living without decent toilets. Conversely, Ethiopia has also made the most progress in reducing open defecation, largely by investing in rudimentary community latrines.
  • With more than 355 million women and girls still waiting for access to basic sanitation, India tops the list for the longest queue for the toilet. However, there has been immense progress through the Swachh Bharat Mission, helping put India in the top 10 for reducing open defecation and improving access to basic sanitation.
  • Djibouti, a major route for refugees from the Yemen war, has the worst figures for open defecation, with a 7.2% increase since 2000.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, the number of people in the world defecating in the open dropped from 1.2 billion (20% of the global population) to 892 million (12%). Despite this progress, it is still a huge problem, resulting in enough faeces to fill seven bathtubs every second going into the environment untreated.

It is unacceptable that one in three of the world’s population have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. This is a denial of their basic human rights and contributes to the appalling death toll from diarrhoeal disease of one child every two minutes.  A community without toilets is particularly hard for women and girls who are exposed to an increased risk of harassment and attack when finding somewhere to do their business, find it more difficult to cope during their periods, and spend more time both ill themselves and caring for those who are sick.

The world has promised that by 2030 everyone will have a safe toilet but, whilst there has been considerable progress made over the last couple of decades, this target will not be met unless there is a step change in ambition and action.

WaterAid is calling for governments to:

  • Invest more money and spend it transparently and efficiently, paying particular attention to the needs of women and girls
  • Promote the value of sanitation for gender equality and female empowerment, and involve women as leaders to ensure solutions address the challenges women and girls face.
  • Improve coordination to create gender-friendly toilets in all schools, healthcare facilities, work environments and public spaces.
  • Combine plans to improve access to sanitation with efforts to redistribute water and hygiene work, which is predominantly the responsibility of women and girls.


What WaterAid Nigeria is doing this World Toilet Day

The theme for 2017 World Toilet Day is “Wastewater” in line with the Sustainable Development Goal’s aim to reach everyone, everywhere with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse. For that to be achieved, we need everyone’s waste to be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way.

“This World Toilet Day is an opportunity for us to strengthen and sustain partnerships among stakeholders, especially aimed at raising awareness, mobilising and inspiring community actions to tackle the global sanitation crisis. WaterAid is joining the Youth WASH Network, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and other partners under the auspices of the National Task Group on Sanitation to commemorate this year’s World Toilet Day with a Toilet4All campaign.”

  • The campaign is an open defecation free crusade aimed at using public lectures, edutainment and media communication as a strategy for mobilising everyone, everywhere to construct, use and maintain toilets as well as promotes wastewater management and recycling in schools, healthcare facilities, communities and public places across the country.
  • The Toilet4All campaign also supports Nigeria’s 2025 Open Defecation Roadmap spearheaded by the NTGS and supported by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. The vision is to engage and empower citizens towards construction, use and maintenance of toilets as well as promote knowledge about wastewater management and recycling in schools, healthcare facilities, communities and public places across the country as an effective strategy for diseases prevention.

The campaign also seeks to promote, inspire and empower young people and women in communities to serve as advocate for wastewater management, recycling and reuse of solid and liquid waste; increase awareness on the effects of indiscriminate disposal of wastewater on shallow ground /surface water system on human health which is the major cause of typhoid, diarrhoea etc.

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