The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said on Monday that over 47 million Nigerians were still practicing open defecation.
Adamu, who disclosed this at a Private Sector Forum in Abuja, said besides the exposure to diseases, there is a lack of dignity associated with open defecation, particularly with women and girls.
He said: “Understandably, this is a serious concern to all of us as it has immense economic consequences and also hinders the social development of the country.”
A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representatives in Nigeria, Ms. Pernile Ironside, corroborated the minister’s assertion, saying Nigeria now sits atop the list of countries where open defecation remains an issue since India stepped down from the unenviable position.
She also said the country loses about N455billion annually due to poor sanitation.
The UNICEF official said: “The economic implications are that Nigeria loses about N455 billion annually to poor sanitation.
“These statistics are alarming. So it seems to be the right moment to come together in an effort to co-create solutions to tackle the challenges at hand that are affecting the health and well-being of Nigerians and impeding economic growth.”
She, however, called for private sector engagement in accelerating progress to towards achieving success in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, (WASH) SDGs by 2030.
According to her, the private sector involvement is a giant step towards exploring hidden local resources to address local challenges and create local solutions.
Ironside added: “Studies have revealed that every $1 invested in the water and sanitation sector results in economic benefits ranging from $3 to $34.
“The gains come as a result of savings in healthcare costs, increased productivity, and entrepreneurial opportunities for the sanitation market.
“Adults are also able to increase their level of productivity if they are not losing time and money to dealing with the consequences of inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities.”
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