The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 25 per cent out of 46 million Nigerians defecate, while 33 million of these people are in the rural areas
Mr Nawshad Ahmed, Programme and Planning Specialist, UNICEF, Abuja, said this in Minna on Tuesday during the 2017 Niger State UNICEF mid-year review.
He noted that open defecation, which was higher in the northern part of the country than the southern part, spread across the country.
Ahmed said that open defecation was less in urban areas due to access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in urban areas.
He also said that one out of every three Nigerians did not have access to safe drinking water, adding that the rate surpassed 80 per cent in some southern states and less than 35 per cent in some northern states.
On open defecation in Niger, Ahmed said that there was a need to review the state’s WASH policy for presentation to the State Executive Council for approval.
He said that there was inadequate government support for the implementation of the state’s Open Defecation-Free Road Map to end open defecation by 2025.
The specialist noted that none of the 25 local government areas of the state had tangible plans to end open defecation, while there were no WASH departments in the local government councils.
He also said that none of the local government councils had existing budget for WASH facilities.
He added that the pace of expansion of safe water facilities was lower than the rate of increase in population.
On education, Ahmed said that over 20 per cent of world’s out-of-school children — 10 million children — were in Nigeria.
“Children from the richest quintile are three times likely to attend school than children from the poorest families.
“There is no gender disparity in the school attendance for children in the richest, fourth, or middle wealth quintile; gender gap appears in the second quintile and is wider among poorest children,’’ he said.
He, however, stressed that mother’s education was important to improving the standard of education of children.
Alhaji Usman Musa, Permanent Secretary, Niger Ministry of Planning, disclosed that the 2017 UNICEF work plan was already in progress.
He said the work plan would soon be signed by Gov. Abubakar Bello.
Musa advised participants to participate actively in the plan whenever it became operational so as to achieve the objectives of the review.