Mr Zaid Jurji, the Chief, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) for UNICEF have stressed the need for private sector involvement to end open defecation in the country.
Jurji said this at the Private Sector Forum on Sanitation organised by Private Sector in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH) in Abuja on Monday.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the programme is "Coordinating Indigenous Private Sector Initiatives to End Open Defecation in Nigeria."
The WASH chief said that the private sector had a huge, yet unexplored potential in development, noting that there was a need to harness that potential to achieve national good, simultaneously with business successes.
He added that the private sector brought a wide spectrum of skills and expertise needed to tackle the issue of open defecation, saying that any country that was seriously needed to partner with the private sector if not such a country would not be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Jurji said that the private sector was the engine of the Nigerian economy, "and we are happy that the sector is streaming with aid to provide total solutions for WASH.
"Nigeria has solutions but the rate at which we are doing it is not enough, we are beaten by demography but we need to increase the speed at which we move.
"Without resources, it will be difficult t realise the objectives of the WASH sector."
UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Ms Pernille Ironside, said "Nigeria loses N455 billion annually to poor sanitation due to open defecation."
Ironside said that the important challenge revealed by the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) was that 47 million Nigerians were still practising open defecation.
According to her, such a report puts Nigeria at the top of the list of countries where this remains an issue since India has stepped down from this unenviable position recently.
"These statistics are alarming, so it very important to come together to co-create solutions to tackle the challenges at hand that is affecting the health and well-being of Nigerians and impeding economic growth," she said.
The representative added that recent data from the WASH NORM was that only 16 per cent of schools and six per cent of health facilities had access to basic water and sanitation services.
Source: Vanguard News