Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria: How Realistic is it?

Titus Tukurah December 6, 2019 0

Kevwe Precious Oghide

A major concern in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on Water Sanitation and Hygiene Is how to end Open Defecation by 2030. How realistic is this?

Nigeria is suffering from a defecation problem. Defecating in the open is one of the leading devastating menaces to public health in Nigeria. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that about 122,000 Nigerians, including 87,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrhoea, intestinal worm infections, cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and other preventable sanitation-related illnesses.

Although access to clean sanitation facilities has improved significantly, due to increased funding and efforts by UNICEF, the European Union, and other global development agencies working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); the results are still far from quantifiable. Over two-third of Nigeria’s population suffer from poor hygiene and live without access to necessary sewage and sanitation facilities. And without proper sanitation facilities, people have no choice than to defecate in open and unsafe places, attracting unwanted health hazards and safety problems, especially for women and children.

Clean Nigeria Logo

Today, Nigeria suffers not only from poor hygiene but inadequate medical care, a menace that is linked to poverty. Thus, eradicating open defecation is an important part of efforts to reduce poverty. The general population forgo hand washing after using the toilet due to sanitation ignorance, lack of proper water supply systems and poorly maintained facilities. With the gaps in sanitation infrastructure, Nigerians can only dream of simple toilet facilities.

One prevalent challenge to ending open defecation is not just erecting sanitation structures or providing clean and safe toilets but changing people’s behaviour from choosing farm fields, railways, motor parks, stadiums, highways, streets, roads, playgrounds, bushes, forests and water bodies, to using the toilets. Many rural dwellers, for instance defecate in the open, not necessarily because they do not have access to toilets but because of deep-rooted cultural practices. How do we create awareness of the dangers and detrimental health effects of this practice? How can we share information that will spur behavioural change in an effort to bridge the gap between poor sanitation and the proper use of toilets? There is a mother in a grassroots community who cleans her baby’s faeces, rinses her hands, and continues cooking, though her hands are not thoroughly washed. There is a child who defecates in a corner and goes back to eating his meal nearby. There is a girl who goes to the bush to defecate and is at risk of rape, kidnap or death. The health and safety implications are terrifying.

Although the Nigerian Government is making conscious efforts to prioritize sanitation, with the launch of Clean Nigeria, the results are not encouraging. Many Nigerians understand the need for clean water but knowledge of sanitation is a far cry. 

Girl fetching water in Gandiya Community in Kano State

To achieve an Open Defecation Free (ODF) society, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources must prioritize sanitation, especially at a time when the country faces the challenge of standard and adequate medical facilities. While the need for clean water and sanitation, particularly in grassroots areas is understood, the relevant government, international development agencies and civil society groups must begin an urgent nationwide sensitization campaign about the necessity of proper sanitation and good hygiene practice as this has a significant impact on healthy living. To be fair, some humanitarian organisations like UNICEF, USAID, EU and Connected Development [CODE] have taken up this cause but it requires the efforts of every Ministry, Institution, the private sector, donor agencies and even individuals to make ODF a reality in Nigeria. Of the 774 Local Governments in the country, only ten are Open Defecation Free. Bauchi, Benue, Cross River and Jigawa State account for the ten LGAs that are leading the drive towards an ODF Nigeria.

It is worthy of note that Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of its GDP annually to poor sanitation as a result of illness, low productivity, loss of earning opportunities and other factors. Ending open defecation in Nigeria can mop up this economic loss.

To urgently tackle Open Defecation, relevant Ministries must set up strong sanitation policies and make budget provisions that reach even the most remote grassroots areas. Nigeria needs a separate budget line for sanitation with a special allocation to end open defecation and put measures in place for accountable spending. CODE, through its social accountability movement, Follow The Money, can track funding in the fight to end open defecation and ensure that monies disbursed for the cause are judiciously utilised. The government needs to initiate bills/laws to promote sanitation and take urgent action to implement an open defecation roadmap at State and Local Government levels. Corporate Organisations should prioritize sanitation in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) —they can make budget allowances for erecting mobile toilets, repairing broken facilities, providing water supply to improve the practice of proper sanitation, in urban areas. There is a need to adopt all necessary means to sensitize the public on the importance of sanitation and hygiene. It is not enough to provide clean and safe toilets but also to change behaviours as a means to bridge the gap between building latrines and their proper use.

In 2014, India began an intentional and aggressive nationwide campaign to stop 623million of its population from practising Open Defecation. Today, India has recorded 94% success rate. If India, with its very large population can achieve this, so can Nigeria. 

Kevwe Precious Oghide is the Communications Lead at Connected Development [CODE]. She has a profound appreciation for great humanitarian service, demonstrates high ethical standards and has an outstanding record of generating high impact results through creativity and collaboration.
Reach her via Kevwe@connecteddevelopment.org

Solving Nigeria’s Basic Education Crisis Through Open Government Strategies

Chambers Umezulike October 13, 2017 1

Kufana Primary School, one of the PS’ to be rehabilitated with NGN 38 m by Kad SUBEB

In 2015, the UNESCO estimated that over 65 million Nigerians were illiterates, with adult literacy rate at 57.9% (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010). One of the major factors responsible for this has remained the continual rise in the number of out-of-schoolchildren in the country. Since many adults could not access basic education at childhood, the possibility of acquiring such while grown is exceedingly contracted. In the light of this, the UNICEF’s 2014 estimate of Nigeria having 10.5 million of the cumulative global 20 million out-of-school children, should be of great concern to the country, requiring a high-level sense of national urgency.

As part of the strategies to rollback the rising number of out-of-schoolchildren in Nigeria, in 2004, the Universal Basic Education Act was signed into law establishing the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). The Commission’s mandate is to improve the enrollment of school children and reduce the current dropout rates. As a step-down measure, states created their own Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB). In furtherance, the Commission provides basic education funding to SUBEB, mainly through annual interventions. Despite this, many of the basic education challenges in the country have not been addressed. In the midst of these difficulties has been contracted open government in the management of UBEC funds by SUBEBs, which has occasioned an enabling environment for corruption to thrive. Such corruption has jeopardized a conducive learning atmosphere for Nigerian children.

Following the foregoing, and as a countermeasure toward the open government deficit, with support from MacArthur Foundation, Connected Development [CODE] kicked-off a project in Kaduna State (as a pilot in the country) to mobilize the public for effective oversight on the implementation of UBEC funds in the state through enhanced citizen’s participation. Starting with four focal LGAs in the state, the project aims to strengthen the capacity of School Monitoring Teams (SMTs) which comprises of Community Based Associations/Organizations (CBA/O), Parents Teachers Associations (PTA) and the School Based Monitoring Committees (SBMC) to conduct high quality tracking of the UBEC spending in 70 schools within a span of 3 years. The project was launched on 14 September 2017 in Kaduna through a stakeholders meeting with over 80 participants in attendance.

A group photo after the stakeholders meeting

Furthermore, from 3 – 5 October 2017, Follow The Money team was in Kaduna over the next activity of the project, which were trainings for the SMTs on tracking UBEC spending strategies (for two days), and Kaduna SUBEB (Kad-SUBEB) on data collection and analysis (for one day). With all the participants wholly in attendance, the SMTs’ training went on smoothly and was hands-on following our level of preparedness which manifested through critical documents we made available to the participants. They included report templates to provide feedback after visiting project sites; list of projects, amounts and contractors to monitor; bills of quantities (BoQs) etc. It was the first time the SMTs saw such documents.

Group photo at the end of SMTs training

In a similar manner, first, during the Focused Group Discussion with the SMTs, it was clear that they have not been carried along on needs assessment across schools to feed the UBE action plan of the state, that is sent to UBEC annually, for intervention access. Secondly, the SMTs have not been useful in project monitoring across schools because they lack key project and financial data. While we noted these issues, the SMTs were taken through the set of projects they would track. The training for Kad-SUBEB officials took place on the last day, featuring knowledge transfer on data collection tools and methods, routine monitoring data and data process management, using MS. Excel for data analysis etc.

Lessons learnt from the trainings encompass, first, the SUBEB training should have been for two days. This will be corrected in the second round of training in the second year of the project. Secondly, the session which featured a group work for SMTs to examine the BoQs should have been facilitated by an engineer that understands the technical terms used on the documents. This was partly addressed by the re-iteration that the tracking should be a collaborative effort. So while SMTs are stepping down the training in their communities, trips to project sites for monitoring should include a community-based engineer for effective tracking using the BoQs.

Thanks to Kaduna SUBEB for all the data earlier provided to us which lubricated the project and most especially the SMTs training. The data encompass the list of successful bidders for the state’s 2014 UBE action plan which is currently being implemented, as well as the BoQs of selected projects. Tune In for other approaching activities of the project, which include town hall meetings across the selected LGAs on the school projects’ implementation. By the end of this month, Follow The Money radio will be live in Kaduna, detailing the progress of the project and enhancing citizen engagement in UBEC spending implementation.. Ultimately, join us here, https://ifollowthemoney.mn.co for conversations and development on the progress of the project.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Senior Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Governance Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Challenges in The Nigerian Water Sector – If the Problem is not Lack of Comprehensive Regimes, then what is it?

Chambers Umezulike June 2, 2017 1

Photo Credit: Water Aid

Water is life and sufficient water supply is central to life and civilization. Water is part of the five basic human needs and plays a key role in the other four. Nigeria is abundantly blessed with water resources. However, as at 2015, only 69% of Nigerians have access to improved water supply with 57% of them being of rural population. During the oil boom days of the 1970s and early 1980s, the country invested hugely in water resources development, primarily in the construction of multipurpose dams which were meant to control flood, provision of water for domestic and industrial uses, the environment, hydro-power generation, control of riparian rights releases and for fishing, inland waterways, livestock and irrigated agriculture amongst others.

The responsibility of water supply in Nigeria is shared between three tiers of government – federal, state and local. While the federal government is in charge of water resources management and state governments have the primary responsibility for urban water supply through state water agencies; local governments together with communities are responsible for rural water supply. To improve manpower supply for the water resources sector, the National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna was established in 1979, running certificate, remedial and National Diploma and Higher National Diploma and professional post graduate courses in water resources. Preceding this was the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMoWR) in 1976 with the mandate of developing and implementing programs, policies and projects that will lubricate sustainable access to safe and adequate water to meet the cultural, economic development, environmental and social needs of all Nigerians. The FMoWR has 12 River Basin Development Authorities under the Ministry, responsible for developing and planning irrigation work, water resources, and the collection of hydrological, hydro-geological data.

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy was approved in 2000, encouraging private-sector participation and provides for institutional and policy reforms at the state level. However, little has happened in both respects. As at 2007, only four of the 36 states and the FCT (Cross River, Kaduna, Lagos and Ogun States) have introduced public-private partnerships in the form of service contracts. While the federal government has a decentralization policy in this regard, little decentralization has happened. In addition, the policy also lays emphasis on rural water and sanitation through community participation. It targeted to increase water coverage from 43% to 80% by 2010 and 100% by 2015. This was not met. In addition, the capacity of local governments to plan and carry out investments, or to operate and maintain systems with respect to rural water management has remained low despite efforts at capacity development. As a result, the FMoWR and the river basin development authorities have been directly carrying off water facilities provision such as boreholes in rural communities.

In 2003, a Presidential Water Initiative: Water for People, Water for Life, was launched by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The initiative had ambitious targets to increase water access (including a 100 percent target in state capitals), 75% access in other urban areas, and 66% access in rural areas. However, little has been done to implement the initiative and targets have not been met. The National Water and Sanitation Policy was also launched in 2004 with emphasis on water management and conservation. Nigeria was also not able to reach the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation. In June 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a Water Resources Roadmap (2016 – 2030) with the goal of reaching 100% water supply to Nigerian citizens by 2030. The roadmap encompasses several priorities including: the establishment of a policy and regulatory framework for the sector; development and implementation of a National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme to attain the Sustainable Development Goals 6; identifying alternative sources for funding the delivery of water supply and sanitation through improved collaboration with development partners, states and local government authorities, communities and the private sector [Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (PEWASH)] etc. It’s hoped that this does not go down history as one of the country’s numerous policies in the sector that was not thoroughly implemented.

There have been enormous contributions of several external partners with respect to water supply in Nigeria, rural water provision especially, and the Nigerian government welcomes such contributions. These partners include the African Development Bank (ADB), the EU, JICA, UNICEF, USAID, WaterAid, Action Against Hunger and the World Bank. The ADB and the World Bank provide loans to the federal government; the EU, JICA and USAID provide grants to the government; the UNICEF and WaterAid receive donations from the public and grants from governments to implement their projects in cooperation with, but not through the government. Even many domestic NGOs all have programs on the provision of rural water supply to counter the water crisis in many of such communities.This is through direct project implementation and advocacy. This is where Connected Development comes in, using its Follow The Money program to track governmental expenditure on rural water provision in rural communities to facilitate service delivery and provision of clean water. The program also advocates for governmental intervention to address the aquatic needs of most of these communities.

At this time, what is key is the provision of financial resources from all concerned parties to finance the Water Supply Section of the PEWASH Phase I (2016 – 2020) of the FMoWR’s which is at the estimate of NGN 108 billion. There are also key challenges with respect to the management of water facilities around the country. In many rural communities, water boreholes are abandoned and cannot be maintained over the lack of a preceding regime for the funding and maintenance of such water facilities. This has continued for sometime and has to be checked. Thus, it is imperative that the government encourages user participation in the management of water facilities especially at the rural level with realistic water tariff structures. In addition, there is a need for proper coordination between the different levels of government and the public. Ultimately, a recurring challenge is the unavailability of adequate and reliable data upon which planning, analysis, and water management can be based. Data on characteristic patterns in hydrological and meteorological changes over time need to be monitored with utmost sense of duty. This is exceedingly important for efficient planning and service delivery.  

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.