The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the federal government was working hard to end open defecation in Nigeria, which has caused the death of children through diseases.
The minister stated this on Tuesday in Jos, Plateau State, during a two-day media dialogue and workshop on water supply and sanitation sector reform, organised by the Federal Ministry of Information in conjunction with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria.
"Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and under nutrition. We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030," he said.
The workshop focused on Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH).
Represented by the deputy director, Olumide Osanyinpeju, the Minister said the Federal ministry has great concern on the well-being of Nigerians, particularly of children who are vulnerable to communicable diseases.
He said the Nigerian government desires to end open defecation in the country by year 2030 as a means of ensuring better healthcare services.
The information minister urged journalists in Nigeria to help create better awareness on the dangers of open defecation.
"As journalists being presented with facts of data on the status of WASH, I enjoin you to use the medium at your disposal to educate the populace with the WASH situation in Nigeria, with particular reference to child development, and well-being of the child."
UNICEF Chief for Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) in Nigeria, Zaid Jurji, in a paper presentation, revealed that 60 million Nigerians do not have access to portable water.
He also said 88 per cent of the diarrhoea cases in the country was caused by open defecation and lack of potable water.
According to Mr. Jurji, the Nigerian population who lack portable water was half population of Canada.
"25 per cent of Nigerians practice open defecation without potable water. That population is more than half population of Canada," the WASH chief said
He urged the Nigerian government to invest more in water and sanitation.
Earlier, while declaring the workshop open, the Plateau State Commissioner for Water, Resources and Energy, Ja'afaru Wuyep, commended UNICEF for filling in the gap where government could not reach it citizens.
Mr. Wuyep said the Plateau State government will continue to invest for the development of its citizens, particularly in the welfare of children and encourage other sectors to key in the policy.
"When we invest in children, we are correcting the past, and making the future right."
He commended UNICEF for coming to their aide. "UNICEF has been the major partners to Plateau State in our human challenges, as a government, we will continue to partner UNICEF."
The Commissioner said "our partnership with UNICEF is necessary. We have seen positive results on our people, UNICEF are everywhere in the rural areas assisting our people," Mr Wuyep stated.
The ongoing two-day media dialogue workshop holding in Jos, Plateau State, has participants across Nigeria and is expected to end on Wednesday with a field trip to rural communities in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.