About 103 million Nigerians still defecate in the open out of about 223 million people that practice open defecation in Sub-Saharan Africa, WaterAid Nigeria, an international non-governmental organisation working in the area of water and sanitation, has said.
Michael Ojo, WaterAid Country Representatives in Nigeria, said this yesterday in Abuja at the launching of the total sanitation project.
The project which has four years circle was aimed at improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the total sanitation project in Nigeria.
Ojo also announced that Nigeria has been awarded $6.6million equivalent (N936m) grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to scale up sanitation projects in 10 local government areas of Jigawa, Enugu and Ekiti states.
The Total Sanitation Project hopes to assist 500 communities in the country to improve access to toilet services and get the communities to attain the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
He said that only 32 per cent of Nigeria's population has access to improved sanitation facilities with 36 per cent coverage in urban areas as compared to 28 per cent in rural areas.
"An estimated 150,000 deaths mainly among children under five occur annually due to diseases predominantly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practice. There is no doubt, access to sanitation is a major challenge in the country," Ojo said.