About 50 per cent of primary and secondary schools in the country need to be provided with toilet facilities in order to tackle the open defecation menace, the Federal Capital Territory Water Board has said.
The board noted that Ekiti, Plateau, Oyo, Nasarawa and Cross River States are endemic in the open defecation practice, putting children at risk of diarrhoea and other diseases.
The FCT board added that the toilets’ provision was necessary as around 87,000 children below five die in Nigeria annually from diarrhoea.
The board Head of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Dr Mohammed Dan-Hassan stated these at a lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers.
The lecture was to mark the inauguration of its fifth National Chairman, Abolade Lawal.
Dan-Hassan said, “A healthy child does well in learning than a sick child. Stunted children are admitted late and are less intelligent.
“Children with heavy worm burden are likely to be absent from school for a high number of days.
“Water and sanitation facilities in schools contribute to 15 per cent increase in school attendance for girls.
“Although significant progress was made in recent years, Nigeria may not reach 100 per cent open defecation-free status by 2025 without a change in strategy. Presently around 50 million defecate in the open and another 68 million are likely to be added between now and 2030.
“A list of activities has to be made available by both the national and state governments. There are assumptions for investment; one, 50 per cent of schools and 25 per cent of Primary Healthcare will need toilet facilities.
“The role of the engineers is to come up with innovative designs for toilets to suit different terrains. They must also ensure low-cost designs and toilet facilities with less water consumption.”
The NIWE National Chairman, Lawal, noted that the body of engineers would “facilitate the development and acquisition of technology to tackle open defecation in the country.”
He said, “I challenge all Nigerian engineers, particularly the water engineers as a matter of urgency to rise and take their place in the economic and technological development of our country.
“Of particular importance is the alarming rate of open defecation which has turned itself into a monster bedevilling our country. We shall contribute our utmost quota in solving this problem.” [PUNCH]