July 03, (THEWILL) – Nigeria will need to build at least 3.9 million toilets annually to meet the open defecation-free target by 2025, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day Maiden Toilet Business Owners Conference in Abuja, UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Dr Jane Bevan, said toilet construction in Nigeria stood between 180,000 – 200,000 toilets annually
Bevan, quoting the 2021 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping on Nigeria’s sanitation status, said 48 million people practice open defecation, while 95 million were without access to basic sanitation services.
“About 1.3 per cent of GDP or N455 billion is lost annually due to poor access to sanitation – health, health care savings and productivity. Every dollar invested in water and sanitation results in economic benefits ranging from 3 dollars to 34 dollars.
“Nigeria cannot continue business as usual or it will miss the target of 2025 and 2030. There is a need to strengthen and scale up proven strategies to reach the country’s goals.
“The private sector must work closely with all tiers of government and communities to actively create sustainable solutions to address the sanitation needs of unserved and underserved communities and help grow capital investment and human capital,” she said.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Didi Walson-Jack, expressed optimism that Toilet Business Owners (TBOs) would complement the government’s effort towards the realisation of the objective of ending open defecation in Nigeria.
Walson-Jack noted that the outcome of the conference would reinforce other existing initiatives in achieving the national and global goals for the water, sanitation and hygiene sub-sector.
“TBOs are part of the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) that would help in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“This is particularly noteworthy in Nigeria where the SMEs have contributed approximately 48 per cent to the national GDP over the last five years as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“Moreover, the SMEs in Nigeria accounted for 96 per cent of all businesses in the country and employed 57.7 million people, representing 84.02 per cent of the workforce in 2016.
“I am, therefore, confident that with this level of SME participation in the economy. This conference will equip the participants with a better appreciation of the potential of these enterprises for the Sanitation Sector,” she stated.
On his part, Executive Director, Toiletpride Initiative, Mr Chukwuma Nnana, said one of the biggest challenges in realising an open defecation-free environment was the lack of enabling environment for these sanitation businesses to thrive.
Nnana, who is also the convener of the conference, said that TBOs and sanitation entrepreneurs were yet to be mobilised to their full potential.
The conference was designed to showcase and create awareness on the contributions of private sanitation enterprises in scaling up sanitation service delivery in Nigeria.