The Federal Government and the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, say they will engage the media in the Clean-up Nigeria Campaign towards eradicating open defecation in the country.
The Acting Coordinator for the Clean Nigeria Project, , stated this at the ongoing media dialogue on sanitation in Ibadan on Wednesday.
News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the media dialogue was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, CRIB, of the Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF.
The programme has as its theme: ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign.’
Mrs Opara, who noted that 47 million Nigerians still defecate in the open, said the media were critical to the campaign against open defecation.
She expressed regret that Nigeria was ranked second among countries that practice open defecation in the world after India, and first in Africa.
Mrs Opara, said while India would be open defecation free by Oct. 2, Nigeria would likely be ranked first in the world among the countries that practice open defecation.
She said there was an urgent need for media support for dissemination of behavioural change message to the people.
Mrs Opara said Nigerians must be adequately informed on the need to build toilets and make use of them rather than defecating openly, which could result in outbreak of diseases.
She, however, disclosed that the Federal Government had constituted a technical working group for the Clean Nigeria Campaign to help end open defecation by 2025.
Bioye Ogunjobi, UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, said the media should continue to help government to educate people on the dangers of open defecation to the populace.
Mr Ogunjobi expressed dismay that only 13 Local Government Areas out of the 774 in Nigeria were open defecation free in the country.
He canvassed aggressive media awareness to make Nigeria open defecation free to help in improving the well-being of citizens.
He also called for public-private partnership in the campaign against open defecation in Nigeria.
According to him, 10.3 per cent of the population in the North-West practice open defecation while 17.9 per cent do the same in the South-south.
He said 21.8 per cent population in the North-East, 22.4 in the South-East, 28.9 in the South-West and 53.9 in the North-Central practice open defecation in the country.
Mr Ogunjobi said Clean up Nigeria Campaign must be assisted by the media to end open defecation and its associated challenges in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, during a field trip to Ogbere-Idi-Osan Market in Ona-Ara Local Government Area in Ibadan, market women said the campaign against open defecation had improved sanitation in the area.
The Director of Sanitation Health Services, Omowumi Popoola, said the three-unit block of toilet built within the market had helped in preventing open defecation within the market.
Mrs Popoola said anyone who wished to make use of the toilet must pay N50, while those who wanted to urinate must pay N30.
She said the people had been making use of the toilet to improve sanitation in the area.