‘Nigeria Loses $1bn To Open Defecation, Annually’
A recent study carried out by the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) has revealed that Nigeria loses $1billion an equivalent of N155 billion to open defecation yearly.
The study, which had earlier indicated that Nigeria lost N455 billion equivalent to $2.93 billion, annually due to poor sanitation, also showed that 70 million Nigerians use shared latrines, while 32 million defecated in the open.
The Water and Sanitation Programme is a multi-donor partnership administered by the World Bank to support poor people in obtaining affordable, safe and sustainable access to water and sanitation services.
The study which deals on impacts of poor sanitation in Nigeria, was conducted by the programmes’s team in Africa;
It used objectively verified data sources and conservative numbers to estimate the economic impacts.
The study showed that the data used for the estimates were largely derived from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP).
The prototype review and concept was endorsed by Mr Benson Ajisegiri, Deputy Director, in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
It stated that “open defecation costs Nigeria $1billion per year and that eliminating the practice would require less than 6.5 million latrines to be built and used.
It stated that 70 million Nigerians use unsanitary or shared latrines and that the poorest was 10 times more likely to practice open defecation than the richest.
The study also indicated that each person practicing open defecation, spent almost 2.5 days a year finding a private location to defecate; leading to large economic losses.
It said that $243 million (N37.7 billion) was lost each year in access time and the cost fell inappropriately on women as caregivers, who might spend additional time accompanying young children, sick or elderly relatives.
“This cost is likely to be an underestimation as those without toilets, particularly women, will be obliged to find a private location for urination as well; also, $2.5 billion (N387.5 billion) is lost each year due to premature death.
It indicated that approximately, 121,800 Nigerians, including 87,100 children under five, died each year from diarrhea; nearly 90 per cent of which was directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
The study named poor sanitation as a contributing factor to other leading causes of child mortality, including malaria and measles.
It stated that “$13 million (N2.1 billion) is lost each year due to productivity losses whilst sick or accessing health care.
“This includes time absent from work or school due to diarrheal disease, seeking treatment from a health clinic or hospital, and time spent caring for under five children suffering from diarrhea or other sanitation-attributable diseases.’’
In costs quantified by the study, open defecation cost more per person than any other type of unimproved sanitation with the additional costs due mainly to the time taken to find a safe, private location for defecation.
Costs were also associated with shared sanitation, taking into consideration the time taken to reach and queue at a public latrine, as well as user-fees.
“Sanitation or lack thereof is a public health issue, and people are affected by their neighbours and communities’ sanitation status, as well as their own, and the costs of open defecation are felt throughout the community.
“Open defecation also has considerable social costs; loss of dignity and privacy or risk of physical attack and sexual violence may not be easily valued in monetary units.
“But these issues are the reality when sanitation facilities are not available,’’ the study stated.
The study indicated that the time costs for accessing the site of open defection and extra travel time was based on the expert opinion of over 25 sector specialists.
The study urged the Nigeria government to channel more resources into sanitation services by targeting investments to the poorest to address their sanitation needs.
It identified equity and uptake as particular bottlenecks along the service delivery pathway in both rural and urban sanitation.
“What needs to be done is to allocate higher investments to sanitation.
“Current sanitation investment in Nigeria is less than 0.1 per cent GDP which is lower than several estimates for what is required.
“Increased investments in sanitation and hygiene promotion are required not only to realise health and welfare benefits of sanitation, but also to avert large economic losses,’’ it said.
The study urged all sanitation agencies to prioritise the elimination of open defecation and propose low cost and effective ways of reducing the practice.