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WaterAid calls for action as report warns 620 million children’s education, health is compromised by lack of decent school toilets

Ahead of 2018 World Toilet Day on 19 November and after the recent declaration of a state of emergency in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, WaterAid Nigeria is urging the Nigerian government to commence action towards prioritising sanitation for all, following a new report showing that the education and health of millions of children is threatened by a lack of access to toilets at school and at home.

In a report released to commemorate the World Toilet Day by Water Aid titled   ‘The Crisis in the Classroom’: WaterAid’s fourth-annual analysis of the world’s toilets, revealed that one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets.

A shocking one in three of the world’s schools lack adequate toilets, compromising children’s human rights to sanitation and leaving them to either use dirty, unsafe pits, defecate in the open, or stay at home.

It further revealed that, in Nigeria, 52% of schools are without a toilet and around 62 million children do not have a decent toilet at home. This means that children are being dangerously exposed to illnesses that could kill them. Repeated bouts of diarrhoea increase their chances of being malnourished, and sanitation-related illnesses result in missed school days and the loss of potential.

In her statement, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director added that “Toilets can make the difference between a child attending school, coming late or staying at home.

“School attendance and participation can be greatly enhanced just by providing toilets. Schools are where children learn how to become wholesome human beings and good toilet behaviour is a fundamental, yet children are going to schools with them.

“It is shocking that Nigeria ranks third in the world with the most number of individuals with no access to a decent toilet. This is unacceptable and even more sad as it contributes to the deaths of nearly 60,000 children under five every year from diarrhoea”.

“Without ongoing investment and a concerted effort from all decision-makers, children, who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society, will continue to miss out on their futures” she said.

Chichi also stated that citizens need to change their behaviour and take responsibility for having decent toilets at home as much as they hold government accountable for providing this basic service as sanitation is a basic right for all and can’t just be an ideal. It must be a priority.

“Of the 101 countries with data available on how many schools have decent toilets, Nigeria ranks 11th and Guinea-Bissau comes last in West Africa. There, eight in ten schools lack adequate facilities. This is followed by Niger, where only 24% of schools have even basic sanitation and more than seven in ten people defecate in the open because they lack a household toilet”.

“Some countries, however, are making decent toilets in schools a priority. Over half of schools in Bangladesh now have a decent toilet and shared toilets in slum areas are providing a stepping stone to better health” she remarked.

About Dotun Roy

DotunRoy.com is a development driven news website with the overall goal of amplifying, promoting and advocating for positive societal change through Sustainable Development advocacy in line with UN SDGs components such as education, environmental sustainability and Climate Change, Human Rights, health, finance, housing, good governance as well as security in Nigeria and across the world.

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  1. Toilets as I knew it!

    As the world marks Toilet Day today November 19th, my heart goes out to the over 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to proper sanitation.
    But then I remember my dear country Nigeria and where we are in the indices of these figures given. I remember vividly how the toilet in my primary school looked like; it was a pit hole at the back of the school compound with some blocks raised by just a few feet to cover you from shame. It did not have a door and thus no privacy. You were always haunted by the fact that someone or something could just catch you in there so you would hurriedly do it and most times miss the hole for fear of been bumped into by someone else. The fear of been bumped into or caught by something (because of the location of the toilet) were not the only demons that we had to deal with; The smell and the vapour that you felt as you lowered your behind into the pit was even a greater demon.
    And so we continued with these horrors until we got to the secondary school. From the look of things, there was a good plan from the beginning because these toilets were attached to the buildings ( so at least the demons to fear were less) but…. All of them were under lock and key for lack of running water and other issues. We had to result to the pit again and as usual it was metres away from the school building and the hostel building that accommodated us. Now the demons were even bigger (with the myths of Bush Baby and all the other gory stories that existed). Now, because we were older and wiser and understood the implications of being infected by the ‘hole’, we improvised and began to do it in cellophane bags and throw it over the fence (short put). This practise persisted and stills persists (I dare to say) and has become normal. Anytime I think about it, I wonder how we made it, yes we did but not without taking along with us some of these that has followed us to our adult age, and it still continues. And then there is the stories of those who did not have toilets at all and surprisingly, the other percentage who have never seen one before hmm…. (Selah) The issues of water on the other hand presents its own unique challenges.
    At home well, some us had fairly better conditions but of course the better part our growing age was spent in school. What mummy taught me to do when in the toilet was at constant struggle with the realities I was faced with when in school. Any time you went out to town, market or church or anywhere there was a ‘hole’ you wouldn’t dare go close to because the stench will throw you back from metres away and if you were so pressed (it’s embarrassing but I am sure most of us can relate), you would just do it by the corner just beside someone else’s (you know what I mean). This was our reality, our culture, our identity, hence, our toilet culture.
    My article today is focused on this Culture. Until a new toilet culture is introduced, this is what an average Nigerian on the street believes about a toilet. It is filthy, stinky, smelly, unusable and treats it as such. This belief has stuck with us overtime and is being perpetuated from one generation to the next. Who will stop this trend? Who will tell us otherwise? Are bad, messy and non-functional toilets our identity?

    Elsie Doolumun Ozika
    (Founder, Toilet Kulture Initiative)

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