In a recent announcement on Tuesday, the Federal Government revealed that Nigeria is currently falling short of the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sanitation target.
The country is unfortunately among those trailing in progress, with an annual economic loss of around $3 billion attributed to poor sanitation practices, including the use of unsanitary or shared toilets and open defecation.
The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, shared this information during the National Workshop on Safely Managed Sanitation held in Abuja.
Despite acknowledging the challenges, he assured that the government is actively addressing the identified concerns.
SDG target 6.2 for sanitation aims to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030, eliminating open defecation and considering the specific needs of women, girls, and vulnerable populations.
Utsev emphasized that access to safely managed sanitation is not only a basic human right but also a crucial foundation for social and economic development.
With just six years remaining until the SDG target date of 2030, Utsev highlighted that progress toward the global sanitation goal is off-track, particularly in Nigeria.
He noted disparities in access across wealth quintiles and locations, revealing that only 46% of the population has access to basic sanitation services, with 25% still practicing open defecation and only 18% having access to safely managed services.
To achieve SDG target 6.2, Utsev emphasized the need for a fivefold increase in progress and a threefold increase in investment in the sanitation sector.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to realizing the SDG 6 target for Sanitation, recognizing its significant contribution to national developmental goals, including food security, poverty eradication, economic growth, job creation, and inclusivity.
Utsev also highlighted the potential opportunities across the sanitation value chain, such as reduced healthcare costs, improved productivity, job creation, and economic growth.
Additionally, he pointed out the staggering cost of poor sanitation, citing a World Bank report from 2012 estimating an annual loss of N455 billion (equivalent to $3 billion) for Nigeria due to open defecation and unsanitary toilet practices.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that 23% of Nigeria’s population, or 48 million people, still engage in open defecation. Regional breakdowns indicated varying percentages across different geopolitical zones, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to address this sanitation challenge.