UN Children’s Fund has declared six out of 18 local government areas of Cross River Open Defecation-Free.

The UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, Mr. Bioye Ogunjobi, 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, 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 practising open defecation.”

He said the North East has 21.8 per cent of population also practising 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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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