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40% of Nigerian women defecate in the open- survey

As the World marks World Water Day today, November 19, WaterAid Nigeria released a report that shows seven in  ten women in Nigeria have no access to a safe toilet, with 40% defecating in the open;  threatening their health and exposing them to shame, fear and even violence. 


This means that on this year’s World Toilet Day, 54 million Nigerian women and girls lack safe and adequate sanitation and 17 million of those don’t have a toilet at all.

The survey conducted on women living across five slums in Lagos (Ajegunle, Ijora, Badia, Oko Agbon and Otto-Oyingbo), Nigeria, showed that one in five had first or second hand experience of verbal harassment and intimidation, or had been threatened or physically assaulted in the last year when going to the toilet.

The poll also showed that:

  • 67% of women feel unsafe using a shared or community toilet in a public place.
  • 40% of women are forced to defecate in a public place. A quarter of these have experienced either harassment, threat of violence or actual assault.
  • 61% of women find the toilets they regularly use to be unhygienic.
  • 56% of women avoid using toilets at certain times of the day to avoid putting themselves at risk.
  • 98% saw it is important for Nigerian Government to prioritise sanitation, in comparison to education and transport.

When women don’t have a safe, secure and private place to go to the toilet they are exposed and put in a vulnerable position and when they relieve themselves in the open they risk harassment. Women are reluctant to talk about it or complain, but the world cannot continue to ignore this.”

The lack of such essential services creates a massive crisis for developing countries – undermining health systems, education, economic development, and progress on gender equality. Poor water, sanitation and hygiene is costing Nigeria around N455 billion – 1.3% of its GDP each year.

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