About 39million Nigeria practice open defecation, says a new report by the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme released today.
This new figure is up by 4m from 35m stated in 2012 edition of the study. The 25% of people in sub-Saharan Africa not using toilets is down from 36% in 1990. However, the practice is growing in 26 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 44 countries including Nigeria.
Recent estimates from the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme indicate about 825 million people — 82% of the 1 billion practicing open defecation — reside in just 10 countries:
Five in Asia:
• India, 597 million (47% of the national population)
• Indonesia, 54 million (21%)
• Pakistan, 41 million (22.5%)
• Nepal, 11 million (40%)
• China, 10 million (<1%)
Five in Africa:
• Nigeria, 39 million (22%)
• Ethiopia, 34 million (36%)
• Sudan, 17 million (45%)
• Niger, 13 million (72%)
• Mozambique, 10 million (38%)
In the rest of the world, the number of people practicing open defecation is estimated at 182 million.
Published today by WHO on behalf of UN-Water, the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report says “The vast majority of those without improved sanitation are impoverished rural residents. And, according to the report, where rural sanitation progress has occurred, it has primarily benefitted richer people, increasing inequalities.
The practice of open defecation is deeply rooted in poverty but has also been related to convention and customs in some countries and societies — representing, for example, some of the only times other than worship when women from rigid family circumstances may meet.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where 25% of the population practices open defecation, diarrhea is the third biggest killer of children under five years old.
Studies estimate that a child dies every 2.5 minutes because of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Children with diarrhea eat less and are less able to absorb the nutrients from their food, which makes them even more susceptible to bacteria-related illnesses. Compounding the problem: the children most vulnerable to acute diarrhea also lack access to potentially life-saving health services.
The recent Ebola outbreak, meanwhile, shone a public spotlight on the open defecation issue in West Africa where worried health officials in Lagos and Nigeria, citing human waste as a vector of the virus, appealed through the media for citizens practicing open defecation to stop.
“Political commitments to ensure everyone has access to water and sanitation are essential to human health and are at an all-time high,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health and the Environment. “International aid for the sector is on the rise. But we continue to see major financial gaps at the country level, particularly in rural areas.”
GLAAS data show sanitation expenditure as a proportion of overall WASH expenditure growing from 20% in 2010 to 40% in 2014. Aid commitments for sanitation, however, fell to one-fourth of water and sanitation in ODA in 2012, compared to one-third in 2010.
Estimates indicate that expenditures for rural sanitation comprise less than 10% of total water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) financing.
“Despite considerable health benefits to be had through