Participants at a one-day sensitisation on open-defecation free Nigeria.

Cecilia Onah, Lafia

The Federal Government of Nigeria has said no fewer than 102,000 children who are under five years of age died from the complications of diarrhea in the last one year.

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, made the disclosure while speaking during a one-day sensitisation programme on “Open Defecation-Free Nigeria”, in Lafia on Tuesday.

Adamu, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Clean Nigeria Campaign, Chizoma Opara, said the health challenges that many children were facing was because most citizens of the country still defecate in bushes and other open places instead of using the toilets.

The Minister while lamenting that the negative implications of open defecation on Nigeria’s development were enormous, appealed to all residents of Nasarawa State to take the campaign against open defecation seriously in order to eradicate the unwholesome practice.

“Nigeria loses about ₦455 Billion of her GDP annually to poor access to sanitation. Nigeria is the second country after India with the most child deaths due to diarrhea. There are about 102,000 under 5 child deaths which occurs each year. So, the issue of open defecation should be taken very seriously so that we can tackle these challenges,” he added.

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On his part, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Garba Abari, said open defecation had caused various diseases including diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, among others for residents of Nasarawa state.

He said, “I am most delighted to be here (Nasarawa State) today for our continuous nationwide sensitisation campaign aimed at achieving Open Defecation Free Nigeria by year 2025.

“The issue of Open Defecation all over the world has assumed very disturbing proportion because of its implications on public health. Open defecation is a condition where human faeces (shit) are disposed off in fields, forests, open bodies of water, beaches, gutters and other open spaces.

“This Nationwide sensitisation campaign is aimed at achieving behavioral change while improving and ensuring access to good water, sanitation and hygiene practices as a way to achieving the goal of making Nigeria Open Defecation free by 2025.”

Earlier, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, while declaring the workshop open, expressed gratitude to the management and staff of the NOA and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for their efforts towards ensuring that open defection is eradicated in the country.

Sule, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources, Nuhu Oshafu, urged the participants to fully participate and actively contribute to the discussions in order to have the required knowledge to proffer a lasting solution to the unwholesome practice in the state.