The Menace of Open Defecation: How can we solve the problem?

The issue of open defecation in Nigeria has been a very disturbing and worrisome situation in the country. Open defecation is the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate.

Because of the menace open defecation pose to community health, the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has been working very hard on the elimination of open defecation especially in African countries. In a recent report, Nigeria has been ranked the 2nd country in the world with open defecation. India has the highest global rating of open defecation. Further analysis shows that 24% percent of Nigeria’s population practice open defecation and this is very dangerous to human health.

Why Do People Engage In It?

This is an important question that we sought to get an understanding of from the public. we discoverd that most people seem to give the same reasons for why Nigerians engage in open defecation. Medtrend Health correspondent had an interview with a resident in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Mrs Felicia, who gave her own definition on open defecation and how she thinks the situation can be managed.

She said; “Open Defecation is when people use anywhere for their convenience like streets, uncompleted buildings etc. and they are doing it because the government did not provide enough public toilet although some people do it intentionally which is a wicked act.”

She further stated that, “women who see their period/menstruation engage in it a lot due to no public toilet.”

Solving The Issue of Open Defecation

According to Mrs. Felicia, “Individuals can make it a personal business or private institutions can provide these public toilets without waiting for the government to help reduce open defecation.”

In addition to this statement, here are some other recommendations that have come from different people on the way forward in solving the menace of open defecation in Nigeria.

  • “The only way open defecation can be solved in Nigeria is behavioural change and policy reforms through community dialogue, advocacy and engagement with policymakers.”
  • “It is also important to drive cross-sector collaborations, especially with the private sector to improve investment in the sanitation sector.”
  • “We must emphasize on generating awareness, sharing information and creating behaviour change to bridge the gap between building toilets and their proper use.”
  • “A national campaign should start for the country to work towards becoming open defecation free.”
  • “Nigeria should be able to achieve adequate sanitation hygiene while also paying adequate attention to the needs of women and girls.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigerian government in 2018 launched a national campaign to jump-start the country toward becoming Open Defecation Free.

 

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