Fred Itua, Abuja
The Nigerian Senate has called on Federal, State and Local Governments to construct more public toilets to battle the growing scourge of open defecation in the country.
The upper legislative chamber said it was not enough to complain or acknowledge the rise in open defecation, but that practical action must be taken to solve the problem.
The appeal by the Senate follows the adoption of a point of order raised by Senator Clifford Ordia who heads the Local and Foreign Debt Committee. It is part of activities to mark this year’s World Toilet Day.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, in his intervention, said: “The government needs to provide the facilities if Nigerians must stop open defecation. Government needs to provide toilets in public places.”
Ordia stated that “open defection poses serious economic, social, health hazards effect on the people, community and the environment. An expert in water, sanitation and hygiene who works with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi said Nigeria loses about 1.3% of its GDP amounting to N455 Billion annually due to poor sanitation and that a third of that cost is as a result of the practice of open defecation.
“Besides the exposure to diseases, there is a lack of dignity that is inherent in open defecation practices, particularly with regard to women and girls. If effective solutions are not found, the non-availability of sanitation facilities inadvertently further exposes women and girls to violence including rape, when they are forced to go out at night to defecate in the open.
“The Ministry on Environment, Water resources Health and other related agencies should increase awareness and sensitisation on the dangers of open defecation.
“The Federal Government through its relevant agencies to Increase the construction of public toilets round the 36 states especially in those states where open defecation is more prevalent,” the Edo Central senator added.