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UNICEF Declares 6 Cross River State LGs Open Defecation Free (ODF)

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has declared six out of 18 local government areas of Cross River Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, the UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist, made the declaration at a two-day Media Dialogue in Calabar on Thursday.

The Dialogue has “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilets’’ as its theme.

He listed the ODF-free council areas as Obanliku, Bekwarra, Yala, Ikom, Boki and Yakurr.

He explained that UNICEF, in collaboration with the state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) carried out a research and found that six of the 18 council areas of Cross River are ODF, the highest in the country.

He said “Cross River has the highest number of council areas with toilet facilities. Six of the 18 local government areas of the state are ODF.

“However, in terms of geopolitical zone, North Central has the highest percentage of 53.9 per cent of its population still practicing open defecation.”

He said the North East has 21.8 per cent of population also practicing open defecation, while North West has 10.3 per cent, South-East; 22.4 per cent, South-South; 17.9 per cent and South-West; 28.0 per cent.

As reported by NAN, Ogunjobi said that one in four Nigerians defecate in the open and 16 million of those who practise open defecation live in the North Central part of the country.

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He also said that “35 million Nigerians practice unimproved sanitation, while 30 million practice limited sanitation.

“There is also a total of 43 million people who practise basic sanitation and 37 million practice safe managed sanitation.”

The WASH specialist also said that UNICEF was working hard toward making Nigeria ODF and urged the media to redouble the effort toward raising awareness on
hygiene.

Mr Eyo Offiong, the Cross River acting Programme Manager of RUWASSA, said the state government declared a state of emergency on WASH in 2018.

He pledged the state government’s readiness to continue to support the WASH programme “and would try to end ODF in Calabar in five years.”

Offiong commended the intervention of UNICEF toward making Cross River ODF.

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