Ado-Ekiti — The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that no fewer than 1.4 million population out of over two million residents of Ekiti State still engage in open defecation.
The global organisation said this accounted for why Ekiti is ranked second in open defecation practice in the country and among the South-west states.
UNICEF said there was need for more concerted efforts to stamp out the scourge across the 36 states of the federation now that Nigeria has been ranked second in open defecation globally.
The UNICEF Chief Field Officer in Ondo State, Dr Tushar Rane, spoke in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday during Open Defecation Free celebration for 54 rural communities in Ekiti West and Gbonyin Local Governments that have been declared free by the international body.
Rane said: "Nigeria was ranked second to India in open defecation globally and this is unwholesome and deleterious to the well being of the citizens.
"The recent mapping survey conducted by Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) revealed that 1.4 million practice open defecation in Ekiti, second in ranking in Nigeria and South-west.
"We salute the resolve of Ekiti government to make water available to every household in Ekiti. This is commendable because the practice of open defecation constitutes great hazard to people's health.
"The celebration here today shows that we can do it. We can make the entire state and Nigeria open-defecation free if the right steps are taken.
"In all these rural components, UNICEF helped those who have the means and those who didn't have the means to build toilets in their homes to achieve this feat that will be of benefit to our health."
The Commissioner for Public Utilities, Mr. Bamidele Faparusi, said Governor Kayode Fayemi had given an executive order that no one should practice open defecation and that it has become illegal for anyone to get involved in the act.
"Every household must have a toilet. If people built their houses and considered it worthy to build a kitchen, I believe that they must consider it expedient to build a toilet.
"Go out and spread the news that it has become a grievous offence in Ekiti to defecate openly.
"Open defecation pose a lot of health hazards. This celebration will stimulate other communities to comply and key into one-house-one-toilet campaign. Fifty-four communities have been declared open defecation free by UNICEF and by 2020, all the small towns in the two councils will assume the same status," Faparusi said.
The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Public Utilities, Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye, assured the people that necessary legislations will be put in place to criminalise the act for all the 16 councils in the state to be free from reckless defecation.