The European Union says it is financing the construction of public toilets in 14 towns in Ekiti State.
Ekiti State has the highest number of residents, among Nigerian states, who defecate openly, two agencies said in 2016.
The United Nations Children’s Fund and the European Union stated that two in three Ekiti residents engage in open defecation; adding that of the state’s 2.7 million population, 1.8 million engage in the unhygienic practice.
It said the Ekiti figure represents 60.8 per cent of Nigerians who defecate openly.
The project titled: ‘Farewell to Open Defecation’ is being implemented by Bread of Life Development Foundation in collaboration with the Ekiti State Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Programme, Babatope Babalobi the project coordinator said in a statement Thursday.
Mr Babalobi said the constructions will be carried out in two local governments: Gbonyin Local Government, and Ekiti West Local Government.
The benefitting towns are Iluomoba, Agbado, Egbe, Imesi, Ijan, Aisegba, and Ode in Gbonyin LGA; and Erio, Ido-Ile, Ipole-Iloro, Aramoko, Oke Imesi, Erinjinyan and Ikogosi in Ekiti West LGA.
Mr Babalobi said the toilets will be constructed in motor parks, bus stops, garages, and/or market places.
“It will comprise two blocks of three compartment pour flush toilets, urinals, handwashing facilities, bathing rooms, laundry, car wash, a sani-centre, solar powered motorised boreholes, and three prepaid meter public water standpoints.
“The project will also support the Sanitation Task Groups in the two LGAs to discuss and address WASH governance issues particularly policy, regulatory, legal, institutional, and financial framework for accelerated access to safe sanitation.
“It will facilitate several media based high level advocacy to key public and non-public service providers towards prioritising sanitation and mobilising financial resources for safe sanitation in the two LGAs; support the two LGAs Sanitation Task Groups to organise WASH public enlightenment meetings quarterly; and mobilise community leaders in the LGAs on strategies of accelerating safe sanitation and hygiene practices in the 14 small towns,” he said.
The constructed public toilets will be handed over to Public Toilet Management Committee (PTMC) for sustainable management, while Private Operators will be locally recruited to suitably operate and maintain the Public toilets through innovative public contracts.
“The public toilets will be operated using a business model, and revenues realised from user charges will be deposited in a Sanitation Revolving Fund, which is a financing mechanism for development of sanitation infrastructure in the small towns, at household and institutional levels,” he added.
According to the 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey by UNICEF done in Nigeria, open defecation has remained a challenge both in urban and rural areas.
The survey shows Nigeria has the second highest prevalence of open defecation in the world.
According to UNICEF, 25 per cent of Nigerians defecate openly and only three LGAs in the country are open defecation free.
This means that 771 of the 774 local government areas in the country are still grappling with open defection.
Lack of public toilets is one of the reasons people resort to open defecation in many parts of the country.
Global health agencies have stressed that Nigeria needs to launch a serious campaign against open defecation so as to attain Goal 6 of the UN sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
For Nigeria to be open defecation free, the World Bank said, the federal government needs to invest about N2.88 trillion ($8.3 billion) to effectively tackle the problem in different parts of the country.
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