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Despite leading in open defecation, Ebonyi state budgets less than 1% to tackle crisis

A survey carried out by the Federal Ministry of Water Resource, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other international bodies, in 2022, revealed that about 48 million Nigerians still practice open defecation.

Nigeria has the second-highest global rate of open defecation with Ebonyi accounting for a significant portion. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines open defecation as the practice of defecating in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water, or other open spaces. This act can pose a risk to human health increasing the chances for the contamination of diseases through air, water and the environment. 

According to the report, the states with the highest open defecation rate are Ebonyi (73 per cent), Plateau (56 per cent), Kogi (56 per cent),  Oyo (54 per cent), and Kwara (50 per cent). 

However, despite these, findings by The ICIR from the state budget revealed that the state is unprepared to combat this crisis. Assessment of the budget showed that only N285 million, representing 0.13 per cent of the total N202.13 billion budget, was allocated to address the ill practice in the state. 


The survey with the Nigeria ministries was in collaboration with  UNICEF, the World Bank, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), called the Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM).

The report showed that in Nigeria, eight per cent of the population practices safe handwashing, 23 per cent do not have access to basic water supply services while 10 per cent have access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services combined. 

The WASHNORM survey was conducted as a template to achieve 2023’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, which declares the importance of achieving “clean water and sanitation for all”.

Infographic showing ther percentage number of people with access to WASH facility between 2018-2021.

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It further showed that there was a trend showing a drop of 3 million in the number of people with access to basic WASH services from 21 million in 2018 to 18 million in 2019. However, an additional 2 million people gained access to basic WASH services between 2019 and 2021.

On the state profile, while Eboyin ranks above average (60 per cent) on access to basic water supply service, it has the highest prevalence of open defecation cases. It is also the second state, next to Edo, without access to hygienic services.


This means that people living in states like Rivers, Delta and Lagos are 20 times more likely to have access to basic hygiene services than people in Ebonyi and Edo states.

2024 budget cannot address issue

To address open defecation, UNICEF said that affected countries must prioritise building more public toilets and increasing access to clean public water systems. 

The ICIR used the two solutions mentioned above as metrics to check the preparedness of Ebonyi state procurement of 1 No. SAS 4000 Tara meter with its accessories to address open defecation. Findings from the 2024 budget showed that only six projects were tied to these solutions.

The states allocated N50 million for the partnership to expand water, sanitation and hygiene (PEWASH) projects, N110 million to construct 55 hand boreholes in various cholera-prone communities in the 13 local governments of the states, N32.5 million for the rehabilitation of 65 non-functional boreholes, N16 million for the procurement of Tara meter with its accessories and N19.5 million for the repair of 13 boreholes. 

It also allocates N30 million would be used to construct two public toilets with solar-powered boreholes and overhead tanks at some strategic places. 

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Further findings from the state budget showed that N631 million, representing 0.31 per cent was allocated to the Ministry of Environment, which has the mandate to handle environmental-related concerns like open defecation.



    Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) projects50,000,000.00
    Construction of 55 No hand pump boreholes in various Cholera prone communities of 13 L.G.A.s of the State @ N2,000,000.00 each.(PEWASH)110,000,000.00
    Rehabilitation of 65 No. Non functional boreholes in all the 13 L.G.As of the State (5 per L.G.A.) @ cost of N500,000.00 (PEWASH)32,500,000.00
    Procurement of 1 No. SAS 4000 Tara meter with its accessories at N16,000,000.00 (PEWASH)16,000,000.00
    Repair of 130 No. Boreholes in all the 13 L.G.A.s of the State 10 perl..A.) at the cost N150,000.00 (PEWASH)19,500,000.00
    Construction of 2No public toilets with solar-powered borehole and overhead tanks at some strategic places30,000,000.00


    The ICIR reported that UNICEF said the Federal Government has to build at least 39 million toilets annually to end open defecation practices in Nigeria by 2025. This is an average of 1.1 million toilets around the states including the FCT. 

    A public health physician, Adewumi Babatunde, told The ICIR, “Nigeria faces significant challenges in the implementation of WASH initiatives, particularly in underserved regions and among marginalised populations. Access to clean water remains limited, especially in rural areas, due to inadequate infrastructure and poor water treatment facilities. 

    “Sanitation coverage is low, with open defecation practices persisting and insufficient proper toilet facilities. Hygiene practices, including handwashing, need improvement. Insufficient funding and investment hinder progress in WASH infrastructure and programs.”

    According to him, strengthening institutional capacity for policy development, coordination, regulation, and monitoring are a few of the crucial steps to be taken to improve health.


    Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold power into account. You can send him a mail at [email protected] or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

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